G8 action plan is a signal for development agencies to focus more attention on agriculture and rural development in Africa

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G8 action plan is a signal for development agencies to focus more attention on agriculture and rural development in Africa

Press release number: IFAD 23/04

Rome, 17 June 2004 -African leaders returning to their countries following the recently concluded G8 summit are bringing home an encouraging message from rich nations and it is one that IFAD shares: famine and food insecurity can be overcome if sufficient energy is focused on boosting agriculture and rural development.

Heads of government from Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda met with the G8 leaders to iron out the details of an action plan to end famine in the Horn of Africa, raise agricultural productivity, and promote rural development.

''The Action Plan sends a signal that rural development and agriculture are high on the agenda of our member states, particularly of those in the G8,'' said IFAD President Lennart Båge. ''We will need the support of all our Member States to help the rural poor to overcome poverty and to meet the Millennium Development Goals.''

The Millennium Development Goals have set as a target halving the percentage of people living in poverty and hunger by 2015. Three quarters of the world's poor, about 900 million people, live in rural areas where they depend on agriculture and related activities for their livelihoods. In order to meet those goals, IFAD believes more investment must be channelled to agriculture and rural development.

The G8 leaders called for a green revolution in Africa , similar to the one in Asia in the 1970s that pulled millions of people out of poverty. ''We will advance a vision of a ''second green revolution'' adapted to African conditions,'' they said, to raise agricultural productivity, promote hardier crops and end hunger. As one of the ways to reach this goal, they cited the ''innovative irrigation and agricultural technology'' projects financed by IFAD.

Last year, the G8 group of countries agreed on the importance of promoting rural and agricultural development in order to achieve lasting food security. This year's action plan takes a concrete step in that direction.

G8 leaders also approved a second action plan to use the power of the private sector to alleviate global poverty, including through the use of remittances and access to microfinance. IFAD has provided considerable assistance to developing countries in both these areas. The organization has been at the forefront in forming partnerships with migrant associations to fund rural development projects. About 75 per cent of IFAD projects have a rural banking component, allowing rural poor people to save money or take out a loan.

IFAD is a specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to combating rural poverty in the most disadvantaged regions of the world. Since 1978, IFAD has invested USD 8.15 billion in 657 rural development projects and programme in 115 countries and territories. Through these projects and programmes, about 250 million rural people have been supported in their efforts to overcome poverty.