Achieving Millennium Development Goals requires increased funding
UN agencies call for more emphasis on agriculture and rural development
8 July 2005, Rome - Three Rome-based UN food and agriculture agencies today called for increased funding for agriculture and rural development if the 1st Millennium Development Goal of reducing by half the percentage of poor and hungry people in the world is to be met by 2015.
In a paper prepared by FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme, the agencies welcomed recent donor initiatives to increase development aid and aid coordination. They also welcomed the G8 agreement, under which the World Bank, the IMF and the African Development Fund will immediately cancel some $40 billion of debt owed by 18 developing countries without cutting overall funds available to those or other developing countries.
Poorest countries depend on agriculture for growth and poverty reduction
However, the agencies said that action focusing on agriculture and rural development and on direct food assistance to the most needy has suffered for too long from lack of adequate funding, despite the fact that the majority of poor people live in rural areas and that hunger is a major cause of poverty. The poorest countries are those with predominately agricultural economies and societies, and the three agencies said there is ample evidence that transforming rural lives and livelihoods is essential for successfully reducing hunger and poverty.
The agencies said that the trend towards increasing development aid and the recognition by many developing country governments of the importance of agriculture and rural development offers a unique opportunity to reverse the decline of funding for agricultural and rural development.
Some 70 percent of the 1.1 billion people living on less than $1 a day live in rural areas. Most of the rural poor derive the basis of their livelihoods from agriculture or activities linked to it. In a world of plenty, says the paper, "852 million people suffer from chronic hunger with 843 million of them living in developing and transition countries."
The hunger trap keeps people in poverty
The UN agencies said it is ironic that many of these people are farmers, yet do not produce or earn enough to meet their basic needs. "For many of the world's hungry, poor nutrition is a major impediment to a healthy and fully productive life. Hunger acts as a trap that prevents them from getting out of poverty."
The agencies called for increasing resource mobilization, combined with greater aid efficiency and focusing the aid where the poor are concentrated - in rural areas. The agencies also called for better harmony between actions on aid and those on trade. Increasing developing country access to world agricultural markets and making their agriculture more competitive domestically and internationally will greatly enhance the impact of development assistance.
The two joint papers and a third background paper by FAO were prepared for a meeting of the United Nations Economic and Social Council in New York last week and were released today on the FAO website.
Information Officer, FAO
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