Investment in Africa’s rural areas will curb economic migration, IFAD President tells ministers

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Investment in Africa’s rural areas will curb economic migration, IFAD President tells ministers

Malawi - IFAD Country Programme - June 2016 ©IFAD/Marco Salustro

4 July 2016, Noordwijk – Investing more in Africa’s rural areas will stem the flow of economic migrants and minimize the acts of desperation that make newspaper headlines, Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), will tell African and European agricultural ministers meeting in The Netherlands today.

“People are leaving the rural areas of Africa because they can’t find jobs or feed their families and the ripple effects are felt here in Europe,” said Nwanze on the eve of his departure. “The irony is that Africa spends US$35 billion a year on food imports. It is time to stop creating jobs in other countries and redirect that investment to their own agricultural transformation.”

Nwanze will speak at the opening of the three-day African Union-European Union Conference of Ministers of Agriculture: ‘Investing in a Food Secure Future’. The conference is being convened by the Government of the Netherlands to discuss how to deepen cooperation between Africa and Europe to mutually invest in food and nutrition security.

Nwanze will tell the ministers that Africa has enormous potential. It contains half of the world's uncultivated land suitable for growing food crops and only 5 per cent of it is irrigated.

“Africa could easily double its productivity in the next five years simply by better use of its existing farmland,” said Nwanze. “This could turn farming into a sustainable and profitable business and lift millions of rural Africans out of poverty. This would make migration a choice rather than a necessity.”

While in The Netherlands, Nwanze will also address the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and meet with Lilianne Ploumen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation.

The Netherlands is a leading contributor to IFAD – a specialized United Nations agency and International Financial Institution that invests in agriculture and rural development in developing countries around the world.

Press release No.: IFAD/42/2016

IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided about US$17.7 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached some 459 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome – the UN’s food and agriculture hub.