Policy Support and Governance
©FAODakshina Murthy

Rural Poverty Reduction

Since 1990, the world has more than halved the number of extreme poor.  However, there are still 736 million people living under USD 1.90 a day (World Bank, 2015).  Extreme poverty is mostly a rural phenomenon and they depend on agriculture for their livelihoods and food security.

FAO supports countries to develop evidence-based policies to eradicate poverty.

The rural poor often experience overlapping deprivations in education, access to basic infrastructure, or a lack of resources or knowledge to access technologies and markets that could boost their productivity and income. Through sustainable growth poverty and hunger can end by 2030.  A precondition is broad-based economic growth with a minimum set of investments and policies.

FAO helps countries develop evidence-based policies, strategies and programmes to achieve SDG 1 (No poverty) and SDG 2 (Zero hunger) together. This includes promoting, inclusive structural transformation and better access to land and resources and gender equality.

Key policy messages

·        In low-income countries, investing in agriculture has a greater impact on reducing poverty than investing in other sectors, as it offers the most direct route for rural people to benefit from their main assets: land and labour. Investment in small-scale family farming and in the livelihoods of fishers, forest dwellers and herders, is an engine for sustainable poverty reduction.

·        However, promoting agriculture is not enough. Key policy approaches to end poverty also include boosting social policies, promoting coherence between agriculture and social protection; strengthening the capacity of producer organizations and rural institutions; and increasing investment in rural infrastructure, research and services to create new income generating opportunities in the off-farm sector for the rural poor.

·        Integrate policies to reduce rural poverty: it is crucial to provide policy support across government ministries, including Ministries of agriculture, public infrastructure and services, social affairs, employment, health, education, finance, planning and environment.

·        Globally, 60% of employed women work in the agricultural sector. Policies to achieve rural poverty reduction must be gender-equitable and gender-sensitive and strengthen rural women’s economic empowerment.

·        Leave no one behind: FAO helps family farmers, small fishers, forest dwellers, pastoralists, rural women and youth, and indigenous peoples make a living through agriculture.

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