FAO advocates use of agric. to end hunger, poverty

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Qu Dongyu, Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has underscored the need to use agriculture as a tool to end hunger and poverty in the world.

Qu made the observation at the ongoing Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) in Japan.

He said FAO had estimated that 140 billion US dollars was an additional annual investment in agriculture to eradicate hunger and poverty by 2030 globally, adding that the bulk should target sub-Saharan Africa.

“Key to tackling hunger and ensuring access to good nutrition for all are Africa’s small-scale farmers, herders, fishers and forest-dependent people.

“By 2050, estimates show that there will be 10 billion people living on a planet increasingly grappling with urbanisation, weakening food systems, and the dwindling of resources accelerated by climate change.

“These challenges present a wake-up call to the world to urgently ramp up coordinated and collaborative efforts in mitigating and reversing the trend.

Challenges

Qu said that there was recent rise in hunger, which reverses the gains of many years of efforts, sees the impacts of climate volatility, including droughts and floods.

In Africa related disasters has doubled. About 257 million people go to bed hungry, which is 20 per cent of the population.

“But it is their ability to produce food and to derive an income that is most threatened by the impacts of climate change, conflict and economic downturn.”

He said FAO was at the forefront of these global efforts to highlights the role of sustainable mechanisation as an important part of the solution.

“Relieving farmers of hard manual labour, particularly women and transform small-scale farming to a more market-oriented business by improving labour productivity and helping farmers lift themselves out of poverty.”

The director-general of FAO said partners are necessary in stepping up action to promote food security and tackle poverty to prevent crisis and also pave the way for peace and stability.

Partners need to scale up the creation of an enabling environment for private investment, and create opportunities for young and women entrepreneurs.

“The Organisation also sees promising opportunities in the youth sector; about 60 per cent of the population of 1.2 billion is below the age of 25. This high number strains the already stressed job market, but can also be a source of opportunities in the agribusiness sector.

Tech advantage

He added that the youth can also leverage on technologies; information and communication technology (ICT) help to connect small farmers to markets, reduce transaction costs, and mitigate risks while electronic commerce promote a robust market environment.

Qu said the Government of Japan has been a key partner, working to build food security and promote the sustainable use of natural resources.

”A country that is regularly affected by natural disasters affecting food systems, Japan, together with other international development partners, has been at the forefront of development assistance.”

Development partners and countries are in Japan to highlight the successes and challenges of Africa’s development.

The TICAD was launched in 1993 by the Government of Japan to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.