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G20 Agriculture Ministerial Meeting - Breakout session, High Level Panel: Mainstreaming Women and Youth in Agricultural and Food Value Chains

Remarks by Alvaro Lario, President of IFAD

موقع: Hyderabad, India

16 يونيو 2023

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Dr. Likhi, Excellencies, ladies and gentleman,

Thank you, Dr. Likhi, for your warm welcome and insightful remarks. I am truly delighted to be here today, addressing such a vital topic—the mainstreaming of women and youth in agricultural and food value chains.

Behind me are photos that illustrate the transformative power of empowering women and youth in agriculture. It enhances livelihoods, resilience, and food security, giving them a future in farming and strengthening rural communities.

Let me start by asking an important question:

Why should G20 agriculture ministers prioritize the resilience and livelihoods of rural women and youth in Africa, Asia, or Latin America?

As the saying goes, "Give a person a fish, and you feed them for a day; teach a person to fish, and you feed them for a lifetime." Modern value chains are crucial markets for agricultural produce, but women and youth need the training and skills to participate fully in them.

Let's delve deeper:

Women constitute more than half of the agricultural workforce globally. However, their contributions often go unrecognized, creating untapped potential. Closing the gender gap in farm productivity and wages alone could increase global GDP by nearly US$1 trillion.

Empowering women in agriculture has a ripple effect. Thriving women farmers lead to thriving families. Providing women the same access to resources as men could reduce the number of hungry people by 12 to 17 percent.

To achieve this, we must address the challenges women face in accessing markets, finance, technology, and skills. We need a world where women are not just participants but leaders in agricultural value chains, with access to markets and resources, and the ability to adopt innovative practices.

Governments, policymakers, and stakeholders have a crucial role to play. We must invest in gender-responsive policies, promote economic empowerment, bridge the gap between women farmers and market opportunities, and provide tailored financial services.

Now, let's shift our focus to the youth. They also face barriers in accessing value chains, limiting their potential. Young women, in particular, face triple disadvantages—location, gender, and age—hindering their progress.

Young people desire a modernized agriculture based on science, technology, sustainability, and job creation. They are the future of agriculture, and with the right support, they can drive vibrant and innovative value chains. Transforming rural areas into economic hubs can attract the youth, benefiting their families, communities, and society as a whole.

Equipping youth with skills, education, and access to finance is crucial. Embracing modern technologies and sustainable farming practices will create a future where they thrive and contribute to highly productive value chains.

As food value chains evolve to higher standards, new technologies can enrich farmers but also deepen inequalities. Traditional jobs are being replaced by those requiring more skills, potentially exacerbating existing disparities. However, with the right combination of education, skills, and finance, women and youth can contribute significantly to productive value chains.

It is essential to adopt a holistic approach that addresses the specific challenges and aspirations of women and youth. IFAD has been a leader in investing in the empowerment of rural women and youth, with over 75% of our supported projects focusing on value chains for the marginalized.

Let me share a couple of examples. In Fiji, during the pandemic, IFAD, the government, and the private sector invested in a cassava value chain, providing sustainable income opportunities for those who lost their jobs in tourism. In Tajikistan, subsidized machinery improved productivity and created employment, benefiting entire communities.

These examples demonstrate the potential for transforming agricultural value chains to benefit women and youth. By adopting a transformational approach, we can create a future where everyone has equal access to opportunities and resources.

Excellencies,

Today's problems are complex and interconnected. Our success lies in working together. Let us commit ourselves to a future where women and youth are not marginalized but actively participate and lead in agricultural and food value chains.

By embracing the full potential of women and youth in agriculture, we can achieve food security, economic growth, and a more just and equitable world for all.

Together, let us turn this vision into a reality.

Thank you.