New Delhi: Governments need targeted policies and investments that focus on agricultural development that is sustainable, raises wages and creates off-farm jobs in rural areas, says a new report to be presented today by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Poverty in the Asia and Pacific region is largely a rural phenomenon and economic growth alone is not enough to eliminate it, the report adds.
“The rapid economic growth in the region has come at a cost. Urbanization has led to a wide income gap between rural and urban areas. In a number of countries malnutrition remains an area of great concern while agricultural production has weighed heavily on existing natural resources,” said Perin Saint Ange, Associate Vice-President of IFAD. “Where agricultural growth has been rapid, emphasis will need to be placed on policies that protect the environment, and improve institutional and socio-economic development.”
The Rural Development Report 2016: Fostering Inclusive Rural Transformation is a rallying call for policymakers and development practitioners to win the global war against poverty. This systematic and rigorous analysis of the rural sector gives a greater understanding of what key investments and policy reforms should be prioritized so that people and nations can benefit and transform rural areas in developing countries.
The report provides insight into the Asia and Pacific regional and country-specific challenges and the varied pace of development in the region. Changes in food consumption patterns, urbanization and climate change are all having an impact. The report highlights the centrality of rural and agricultural development to overall economic growth.
Countries that have achieved fast structural and rural transformation have also dramatically reduced poverty, which across the region fell from 71 per cent in 1981 to 15 per cent in 2011. But slow transformers have not witnessed the same reductions as faster transformers; 560 million people or 13.6 per cent of the population of the region were still living on less than US$1.25 a day in 2011.
The cases of China, India, the Philippines and Viet Nam show that policies, institutions and investments are key to determining the speed and inclusiveness of rural transformation. In each country, land reform, basic investments in rural areas and other sectoral policies have been decisive factors.
Countries with slow rural transformation and slow poverty reduction, on the other hand, need to focus more on improving access for the rural poor to land and credit, and boosting investments in agricultural technology and rural infrastructure.
“The report demonstrates that inclusive rural transform will not happen automatically, but must be made to happen,” says Paul Winters, Director of Research and Impact Assessment, IFAD. “It reinforces IFAD’s view, based on 40 years of experience, that fostering inclusive rural transformation is about making the right strategic choices for rural investment in each particular context.”