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Developing countries urged to make agriculture a funding priority

afrol News, 19 November - On the final day of the World Summit on Food Security, the head of the UN’s rural poverty agency said he was pleased to see how developing countries are increasingly deepening their commitments to food security through investment in agriculture.

On the sidelines of the Summit, Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), urged developing country governments to move boldly and swiftly to create the political will and the right policy environment for agricultural development, while acknowledging their progress.

Mr Nwanze noted that G8 leaders had made commitments at L'Aquila in July - where they pledged $20 billion to support agriculture in the next three years. The importance of reversing disinvestment in agriculture was then endorsed at the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh in September.

“Now it is important to drive home the message to developing countries, to move forward in their own commitments to prioritise agriculture. Nothing but agriculture can drive local economies, grow more food and eradicate poverty,” he emphasised.

During the Summit Mr Nwanze held discussions with several country leaders, including the Tanzanian President, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, and the Angolan Prime Minister, Luisa Diogo, as well as with key ministers from developing countries where IFAD works closely with local communities to reduce rural poverty.

In the Summit declaration, countries agreed to work to reverse the decline in domestic and international funding for agriculture and promote new investment in the sector, to improve governance of global food issues and to proactively face the challenges of climate change to food security.

IFAD has in the past 30 years maintained focus on food security and rural development. “In the last decade, while the international community and national governments were disinvesting in agriculture, IFAD’s programme of work was increasing,” noted Mr Nwanze.

“IFAD has been faithful to its mission and we continue to insist that investment in rural development, in women and children, is the foundation of economic growth,” he said.

In responding to media queries on large-scale investments in agricultural land in developing countries, Mr Nwanze said in developing countries with an abundance of land, water and good soils, there are good opportunities for such investments.

“These investments can bring new technologies, increase production, create jobs, build infrastructure, schools and health facilities, so rural communities are able to advance,” he said.

“There is a potential for win-win situations. What is vital is that in such transactions local communities are involved as partners and not deprived of their land,’ he added.

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