07 February 2020
Mr Christian Schmidt,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Every week, Stanley Mchome travelled from his rice fields in Northern Tanzania to local markets, gathering information on prices. Using his mobile phone, Mr Mchome sent an SMS to his farmers’ group back home and the group used the data to negotiate better prices.
In Cambodia, farmers who were overdosing their rice fields with fertilizer cut their costs in half thanks to a special software developed in collaboration with Intel Corporation that gave them expert advice using a smartphone.
In Lesotho, technology has helped farmers adapt to climate change and avert disaster by providing timely weather forecasts. Knowing how the weather will change means farmers can protect their livestock from extreme heat or cold. As a result, fewer animals are dying.
As these examples clearly indicate, technology is an important tool for smallholders and rural communities the world over. And it has a role to play in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.
The rural areas of the developing world are home to 70 per cent of the world’s extremely poor people, and most of the hungry.
Agenda 2030 has given us a framework to eliminate poverty and achieve sustainable food security. But to meet our commitment, innovation must go hand-in-hand with inclusive rural development.
In Sub Saharan Africa alone, 17 million young women and men enter the job market every year. Most live in rural areas.
These young people need decent jobs and the hope of a better future. And with an aging farmer population, we will need young people to be the famers of tomorrow.
But young people are ICT-savvy. They will work with their mobile phone and computer and Ipad(s); but they will not pick up the hoe or the machete of their fathers and mothers. They need and they want technology.
Rural areas need investment – not just in ICTs but in basic infrastructure, in social services and in policies that support inclusive rural communities. Without this investment, young people with no hope at home will continue to migrate from the village to overcrowded cities and urban centres, and beyond.
As the international community works towards achieving Agenda 2030, it is crucial that we have the support of Ministers of Agriculture for investments and policies that target the needs of smallholder producers, young people and the development of rural economies.
This is what IFAD does. The examples I have just given you come from IFAD-supported projects, and there are dozens more.
We thank the German Presidency for our presence here today and our host, Minister Schmidt.
IFAD stands ready, as ever, to offer our support and expertise to the G20.