IFAD Rural Poverty Report 2011
India, January 2011 - The International Fund for Agricultural Development recently released the “Rural Poverty Report 2011 - New realities, new challenges: new opportunities for tomorrow’s generation”. The 2011 Report has been issued after a decade with the last report being released in 2001.
The 2011 Report highlights that in spite of improvements over the last ten years that have lifted over 350 million rural people out of extreme poverty, global poverty remains a predominantly rural phenomenon, with 70% of the developing world’s 1.4 billion extremely poor people living in rural areas. Over the past decade, the overall rate of extreme poverty (i.e. people living on less than USD 1.25 a day) has dropped from 48 percent to 34 percent. Dramatic gains in East Asia, particularly China, account for much of this decline. The report also points to an alarming increase in the numbers of extremely poor people in rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, and notes the persistence of rural poverty on the South Asian sub-continent, which is home to half of the world’s one billion extremely poor people.
While increasingly volatile food prices, uncertainties and effects of climate change, and a range of natural resource constraints are expected to further complicate efforts to reduce rural poverty, the report highlights changes in agricultural markets that are providing new opportunities for small-holder farmers to increase productivity, necessary to ensure enough food for an increasingly urbanized global population. Accordingly, the report emphasizes “there remains an urgent need to invest more and better in agriculture and rural areas” based on a “new approach to small-holder agriculture that is both market oriented and sustainable”.
“The report makes clear that it is time to look at poor smallholder farmers and rural entrepreneurs in a completely new way – not as charity cases but as people whose innovation, dynamism and hard work will bring prosperity to their communities and greater food security to the world in the decades ahead,” said Kanayo F. Nwanze, IFAD’s President.
“We need to focus on creating an enabling environment for rural women and men to overcome the risks and challenges they face as they work to make their farms and other businesses successful,” he said.
The report highlights the key role of women farmers, who produce most of the food that is consumed locally in rural areas, and the priority need to address their inadequate access to land tenure, credit, equipment and market opportunities.
In addition, the report says “low levels of investment in agriculture, weak rural infrastructure, inadequate production and financial services, and a deteriorating natural resource base” – particularly land and water and growing competition for their use – are creating an environment which makes it too risky and unprofitable for most of the developing world’s smallholder farmers to participate in agricultural markets. Yet the report also indicates that changes in agricultural markets, as well as emerging opportunities in the rural non-farm economy, offer new hope that major progress can be made in combating rural poverty. These include the rapid growth of urban centres and the accompanying rise in demand for higher value food, as well as the fact that agricultural markets are growing and becoming better organized in order to meet that demand.
“The world that rural people live in is changing very fast, and that is bringing a range of new opportunities,” said IFAD’s Ed Heinemann, who led the team that wrote the report. “In order to enable them to address the problems they face and make the most of the opportunities, governments and the donors who work with them have got to do much more to support rural areas, to invest in rural areas, to improve their infrastructure and governance, and to make rural areas better places to live and to do business.”
Essential to any rural poverty reduction strategy, said Heinemann, is understanding how to help poor rural people avoid and manage the risks they face – from long standing risks related to ill-health and natural disasters to new and emerging challenges related to natural resource degradation, the effects of climate change, growing insecurity of access to land, and greater volatility of food prices.
The report can be downloaded from the IFAD website using the following link: http://www.ifad.org/rpr2011/index.htm
Contributed by - Coordination Team