The president of the United Nations’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Kanayo F. Nwanze, is calling on international bodies, governments, and private investors to support family farmers as a key to fighting hunger amid a global population explosion and threats from climate change. “There is an urgent need to boost the financial resources that are invested in agricultural and rural development,” Nwanze writes in an essay published today in the Cairo Review of Global Affairs.Nwanze says that that economic transformation of rural areas will be central to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals expected to be adopted at a UN summit in September. National governments must direct a larger share of public resources to rural development, he says, and domestic and international financing is needed to foster inclusive and responsible private investment in smallholder farming. “Inclusive rural transformation must be a keystone of our response to the challenge of sustainably feeding the world’s growing population,” Nwanze says. According to Nwanze, the world’s 500 million smallholder farms produce most of the world’s food yet those who work on them “are often also the very people who are both poor and hungry.”
Citing UN figures estimating that 795 million people in the world are currently undernourished, Nwanze says that the challenge of fighting hunger will remain great in the years to come. He says that the projected global population increase of some 30 percent to 9.6 billion by the year 2050 will require a massive increase in food production. But meeting that rising demand, he argues, will require overcoming the effects of climate change such as radically altered crop-growing conditions and the severe disruption of agricultural production by extreme weather events. “While world leaders edge toward a binding agreement that might put the brakes on carbon emissions, poor rural people live their daily lives on the frontline of a warmer world,” he says.
Nwanze argues that sustainable production enabling equitable access to sufficient and nutritious food also requires measures to empower women and youth. Hunger and poverty disproportionately affects women and girls, he says, while addressing gender inequality can enable households as well as communities to work together to combat food insecurity and malnutrition. “Renegotiating domestic divisions of labor to share women’s workloads or to enable women to engage in activities that generate income can benefit all family members,” he says.
Nwanze also says there is an urgent need to reverse the ageing trend among farmers. “The potential returns of investing in young people are enormous—in terms of food security, poverty reduction, employment generation, as well as peace and political stability,” he says. “In many countries where food security challenges are particularly stark, large proportions of the population are young.”
Nwanze’s essay appears in the Summer 2015 issue of the Cairo Review, which features “Special Report: A World of Food.”
To read the full essay by Kanayo F. Nwanze and “Special Report: A World of Food,” go to www.thecairoreview.com.
The Cairo Review of Global Affairs is the quarterly journal of AUC’s School of Global Affairs and Public Policy (GAPP). The journal is available online at www.thecairoreview.com.
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