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Statement by Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD, at the University of Pretoria, South Africa

07 février 2020

IFAD Rural  Development Report 2016: Fostering inclusive rural transformation

8 March 2017, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Dr Stephanie Burton,
Distinguished professors,
Esteemed students,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

First, let me thank the University of Pretoria for its hospitable welcome, and for co-hosting this event with IFAD. I would also like to thank our distinguished panellists, Professor Hans Binswanger-Mkhize; Secretary General of the African Farmers Association of South Africa Aggrey Mahanjana; Director of Special Projects in the office of the President of the African Development Bank, Sipho Moyo; the Outcome Facilitator for Rural Development in the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Tsakani Ngomane; and the former Professor and Dean of Agriculture at the University of Zimbabwe and current Director of the Barefoot Education for Afrika Trust (BEAT), Mandivamba Rukuni. And from IFAD, we will hear from our Regional Director of the East and Southern Africa Division, Sana Jatta.

The framework for our discussion is IFAD's flagship Rural Development Report that came out a few months ago. At IFAD, we found that there was a void of thorough, evidence-based analysis in the field of rural development for poverty reduction. To fill this void, we brought together a group of experts to study experiences in more than 60 developing countries to answer key questions about the nature, pace and direction of changes m rural areas and how these changes relate to a country's overall economic development.

We focused on the impact of structural transformation - that is, the reallocation of economic activity beyond agriculture to include industry and services, which is a common feature of economic development. We set out to understand the relationship between structural transformation and rural transformation - by rural transformation I mean the process by which gains in agricultural productivity are coupled with more diversified rural incomes and changing demographics. We asked ourselves, do these changes cut rural poverty? If so, how, when and how quickly?

The findings of the report make for fascinating reading. We discovered that growth and transformation do not automatically cut rural poverty. They matter. But of equal importance are policies. We now have empirical evidence that the choices governments make affect the extent of and pace of rural poverty reduction.

For Africa, the report has particular significance. At IFAD, we are well aware that we will not achieve the first two Sustainable Development Goals, of ending poverty and hunger, unless we transform rural Africa.

Africa is the only region of the world where the number of people living in extreme poverty has actually increased since 1990. Today, 43 per cent of our people - some 330 million children, women and men - live in extreme poverty. Fifty-eight per cent of our children suffer from stunting.

This is why 38 of the 60 countries studied in the report were from Sub-Saharan Africa, of which 15 were from the East and Southern Africa region. The data we collected indicates that Africa is uniquely placed to gain from policies and investments that support inclusive rural transformation.

While here in the Republic of South Africa, dependence on agriculture as an engine of economic growth is relatively low, for most African countries, agricultural production is the most important economic sector, contributing an average of 24 per cent of GDP for the region. Agribusiness supplies, processing, marketing and retailing add an extra 20 per cent.

At a time when the world needs to feed an ever• growing population, Africa has 25 per cent of the world's arable land but only 10 per cent of the world's agricultural output.

 Africa's wealth of arable land can and should be used to grow the food to feed our people and even to export. Instead, our continent's annual food import bill is US$35 billion. And it is growing. By some estimates, ' African food imports will hit $110 billion by 2020.

Today, our panel will discuss the policies that are needed to expand employment in agriculture. It will also examine how to attract young people to farming. Almost one quarter of South Africans are between 15 and 24 years old. And more than half of young people are unemployed. At the same time, our farming population is aging.

We need our young people to take their creativity, their energy and their capacity for hard work and apply it to growing and processing food.

They can afford to dream big. Dernanc for quality food and for value-added products is growing across the continent. As a result, there are exciting new opportunities for the agro-industrial sector.

And there are growing regional trade opportunities - Chad exports meat to Nigeria, and sesame to Sudan. Benin exports vegetables to Ghana, Nigeria and Togo. Niger exports onions to all of West Africa. Uganda exports seed potatoes to Rwanda, and Swaziland is now exporting honey to South Africa!

With intra-regional trade in Africa at less than 13 per cent -- compared with 35 per cent within Europe -• clearly there is room to grow.

The issues that we will discuss today have the potential to unlock the potential of rural economies.

But there is one major impediment that stands in the way of this transformation.

What is this impediment?

I can sum it up in two words: Good Governance.

The need for good governance was underscored in the Secretary General's recent announcement that 20 million Africans are in danger of famine. Each of the countries facing famine is plagued by war or recovering from conflict.

We need good governance to bring in and implement - in a consistent manner - policies that are both appropriate and harmonized in areas such as land governance and fertilizer regulatory frameworks.

We need good governance to ensure there is investment in rural infrastructure, such as roads and electricity generation.

We need good governance in order to ensure strong institutions, rule of law, and the protection of the rights of the most vulnerable.

Infrastructure must be fixed and corruption rooted out if we want our young people to consider building a life in agriculture.

We must also address the issue of perception. Young people consider farming to be old fashioned. They associate it with long hours, hard work and low pay.

We need to help our young people see that farming is a business, and that it can be profitable, and that there are real opportunities for entrepreneurs.

And when I talk about young people, let me be clear that this includes our women. Africa will never take its place as a global leader unless it enters the 21st century and offers our daughters the same rights and opportunities as our sons.

At IFAD, we see every day how inclusive rural development transforms lives and communities. I could give you hundreds of examples, but time is limited, so let me just share three.

Earlier this year I visited an IFAD-supported project in Mozambique where the community had been plagued by drought that killed their cattle. Women spent hours and walked many kilometers to collect water from the river.

Then came the project, providing what we call "multi-purpose" boreholes. The project drilled deep boreholes to reach water, and constructed tanks to store 20,000 litres of water. The system uses solar power.

Today, the water is being used for a multitude of purposes: the villages have safe drinking water and their health is better, they have irrigation water to grow vegetables. They have constructed water troughs so that their cattle no longer die during the dry season. They wash their clothes in sinks and basins, avoiding a long trudge to the river. They are saving time, saving money and can afford to send their children to school.

The total cost? $40,000 - to bring these benefits to 150 families, some 750 people. An investment of US$50 per person over a 12-month period, and the system will continue to deliver benefits for the next 20 years.

Then, there is the remarkable wool and mohair programme in Lesotho which promises to generate environmental benefits that will reach all the way Johannesburg, and all thanks to improved, sustainable rangeland management. Why? Because better rangeland management leads to less degradation. Less degradation leads to a lower silt load in the major dams that provide water to Johannesburg.

Then there are the sugarcane and livestock producers I met just yesterday in St. Philips, situated in the Lowveld of Swaziland. Benefitting from an earlier investment by the African Development Bank (AfDB), through a smallholder irrigation project, which built three dams and off-river storage reservoirs, thousands of acres are now irrigated, allowing farming communities to expand their sugarcane farms and diversify into livestock and vegetable farming. This downstream investment had enabled famer companies to create jobs, access to potable water by households and improved sanitation facilities.

One such farmer company, Nxutsamlo, with total membership of sixteen (16) - 9 women and 7 men - had built livestock fattening feed lots. Supported by the IFAD Rural Finance and Enterprise Development Project, one participant, the female co-chairperson of the company, shared her story with us. She had bought a three-year old bull for Swazi Lilangeni (SZL) 7 ,oon, had spent SZL 1,500 fattening it for three (3) months and sold it for SZL 19,000. Her pick-up van was parked not far from us, she now conveniently pays her children's school fees and plans to embark on her new project - building a new house!

And this is the same story I hear when I travel. Today, more children are in school, and families have improved their homes. Experience has taught communities that working together is the key to survival and prosperity, whether they do so as Associations, groups or cooperatives, the communities are stronger and better off than ever - the beginnings of rural transformation.

At IFAD we know that inclusive rural transformation is essential to sustainable development. But it doesn't just happen. It depends on the choices that are made, firstly by governments, but also by the private sector, by civil society, and by institutions like IFAD. Inclusive transformation has the power to lift people out of poverty, to revitalize communities, and to offer opportunities to all - including youth, who are the future of any nation. But as the Rural Development Report shows, it must be made to happen.

The Rural Development Report can be a vital resource to help policy makers make the right decisions and investments to bring about inclusive rural transformation. Excellencies, professors, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, and most of all students,

In a few weeks I will be moving on from IFAD, but I will not be leaving IFAD's work behind. Africa needs all its sons and daughters to build a better and brighter future for our continent.

From everything I have seen and everything I have experienced over a lifetime in development, I believe that Africa should be great and I know that Africa can be great.

But to achieve this we, as Africans, must embrace this collaborative spirit and pull together. It is a responsibility we all share.

Thank you.