Many rural development efforts in Western and Central Africa have focused on how to improve poor farmers’ yields. But better yields have not always translated into greater incomes. As the use of cassava has grown, the role of efficient markets and a better coordinated cassava chain have become increasingly important to producers and processors who depend on a stable cassava sector for income.
Secure access by rural poor people to both land and water is central to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, in particular the target of reducing by half the proportion of people living in extreme poverty and hunger by 2015. Most of these people depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. However, international debate continues to address land and water issues separately, and to view the significant use of water in agriculture as problematic.
The First Mile Project is about how small farmers, traders, processors and others from poor rural areas learn to build market chains linking producers to consumers. Good communication is vital. The project encourages people in isolated rural communities to use mobile phones, e-mail and the Internet to share their local experiences and good practices, learning from one another. While communication technology is important, real success depends on building trust and collaboration along the market chain. Ultimately farmers and others involved develop relevant local knowledge and experience and share it – even with people in distant communities – to come up with new ideas.
FAO, IFAD and WFP are accelerating their efforts to help countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). More than 1 billion people live in extreme poverty, suffering hunger or undernourishment. The vast majority – about 810 million women, men and children – live in rural areas, where they depend on agriculture and related activities for their survival. The three Rome-based agencies agree that none of the Goals can be achieved unless extremely poor people, especially those living in rural areas, are supported in their struggle to emerge from poverty and hunger. Consequently, the agencies are focusing their efforts on the targets of the first Goal, to reduce by half by 2015 the proportion of people living in extreme poverty and hunger.
Good communication is vital to small farmers who need better access to markets and to reliable information about prices, product quality and market conditions. Can new information and communication technologies (ICTs), especially the Internet, help? The First Mile is a two-year pilot project supported by the Government of Switzerland. It is implemented in collaboration with the Agricultural Marketing Systems Development Programme of the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania. Technical assistance is being provided by the International Support Group.
Over the past 25 years, there have been at least 80 wars around the world. While the places may vary, today’s violent conflicts have some striking similarities: almost all are civil wars and the majority of victims are civilians, not combatants. Most of these internal conflicts have taken place in poor countries, impeding their development. In fact, more than half the countries where international development agencies currently operate are affected by war. Unfortunately, the majority of these conflicts are ongoing events, not temporary emergencies. Today’s average conflict lasts about eight years – twice as long as conflicts before 1980. And many more people are killed in conflicts by hunger and disease than by actual fighting.
Land degradation – often caused by human activities such as overcultivation of soil, deforestation, overgrazing and population growth – affects more than one billion people and 40 per cent of the Earth’s surface.When this degradation occurs in the drylands where the earth is particularly fragile, rainfall is minimal and weather is harsh, desertification results. Desertification directly affects the lives of more than 650 million people in 110 countries. Contrary to popular belief, desertification is a process that can often be reversed.There are many ways of combating desertification, including applying appropriate land-use technologies and water-use strategies. However, one of the most effective methods of combating desertification is by eradicating poverty.
A pesar de que las personas pobres que viven en las zonas rurales son los principales productores agrícolas del mundo, en muchos casos no tienen acceso a sus tierras y no ejercen control sobre los recursos naturales de los que depende su subsistencia.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) supports the Turkish Government’s poverty-reduction policy, which gives priority to the development of economically depressed regions. In remote areas, particularly in mountainous regions, the lack of physical and social infrastructure, such as roads, schools and hospitals, exacerbates the isolation of rural people. IFAD–funded projects help rural poor people overcome economic, physical, intellectual and social isolation. IFAD loans support projects that help rural poor people, particularly women, improve their living conditions and overcome poverty.
IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency dedicated to eradicating poverty and hunger in rural areas of developing countries. Through low-interest loans and grants, it develops and finances programmes and projects that enable poor rural people to overcome poverty themselves.