Ahead of his address to the Group of Twenty (G20) Ministers of Agriculture Meeting this week, Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), offered the institution’s full support for efforts to increase the sustainable production of nutritious foods.
“Sustainably feeding a growing population will take collective action and IFAD stands ready to partner with the G20 to achieve this,” Houngbo said prior to his departure for Buenos Aires. “With small family farms supplying up to 80 per cent of the food produced in developing countries, it has never been more critical to invest in these farmers, providing the tools for them to better manage their land and ensure the health and productivity of their soil in the face of a changing climate.”
While the main theme of the meeting is sustainable soil management, the group will also discuss a proposal by Argentina to boost rural youth employment through access to technology and engagement with the private sector through global events.
A study by IFAD and the World Bank for the G20 Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting last year describes how, with youth abandoning rural areas because of lack of decent employment opportunities, the future of agriculture is at stake.
“At IFAD we believe young people today – the largest population the world as ever seen – are central to our work in transforming rural communities and eradicating poverty and hunger,” said Houngbo. “If we are to foster a generation of ‘agripreneurs’ we must answer their call for better access to the resources they need to grow our rural areas into vibrant places that can feed generations to come.”
Since he took office last year, IFAD has prioritised youth-centric development across all of its programmes and projects to provide training and support to create rural employment and enterprise options that are appropriate for young people, in both the farm and the non-farm sector.
Another important focus of the Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting is the G20’s contribution to reduce the estimated one third of all food that is lost or wasted.
“Food loss and waste constitute is a luxury humanity cannot afford. I salute the G20’s efforts to tackle this problem,” Houngbo said. “IFAD supports small-scale farmers to improve their ability to process and store their crops thereby minimizing food loss. IFAD stands ready to offer its expertise to help mitigate this phenomenon.”