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Eradicating Poverty – a Lofty Ideal or Achievable Goal? 0

Rome (Italy) – The first Sustainable Development Goal calls for us to end poverty in all its forms everywhere by 2030. The goal and the deadline are ambitious – and they need to be. We do not have the luxury of time. Poverty is so intertwined with hunger, migration, forced displacement, conflict and environmental degradation that prioritising its eradication is not only a moral and economic imperative, but essential to address the most pressing global issues of our time.

To eradicate poverty, we have to focus our attention on the rural areas of developing countries where three quarters of the world’s poorest and hungriest people live.

The incomes of 2.5 billion people worldwide still depend directly on rural small farms, therefore developing smallholder agricultural production and market access is an essential starting point.

In terms of poverty, the plight of sub-Saharan Africa is particularly disturbing. Although, according to the World Bank, more than 1 billion people were able to escape extreme poverty globally between 1990 and 2012, in sub-Saharan Africa absolute poverty has actually increased since 1990 and an estimated 330 million people live below the poverty line.

It is important to ask why the continent has not made progress in its fight against poverty, and what can be done about it.

Extractive natural resources account for three-quarters of sub-Saharan Africa’s total exports but the resulting billions of dollars in revenue have had a limited impact on poverty reduction.

In some cases, the promotion of these industries has been to the detriment of investments in agriculture. Yet studies show that growth in agriculture is up to 11 times more effective in reducing poverty than growth in any other sector in sub-Saharan Africa.

The potential of agriculture to create prosperity for millions of people cannot be underestimated. In fact, agriculture is the single largest employer in the world, providing livelihoods for close to 40 per cent of today’s workforce globally, and 60 per cent in Africa.

The untapped potential on the African continent is enormous. It has 25 per cent of the world’s arable land and half the world’s uncultivated land suitable for growing food crops.

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By Dr. Kanayo Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

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Direttore Responsabile Giuseppe Frangi