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prices, which complicate life for rural people
as both producers and buyers of food. Other
emerging threats include deterioration of
natural resources, growing competition for
land and water, and as Australians know only
too well, increasingly severe weather events
worsened by climate change.
But good things are happening too. As
cities expand and the world becomes more
urbanised, the demand for high-value food is
growing, expanding markets for farmers.
And while agriculture continues to
drive rural growth, engaging four-fifths of
rural households worldwide at some level,
technological advancements and changes in
the global economy are also creating jobs off
the farm. The accelerating search for renewable
energy sources around the world only increases
the potential for growth.
All of this creates opportunities for poor
Dr Kanayo F. Nwanze
As the fifth IFAD president, Dr Kanayo F. Nwanze brought to the role more than 30 years
experience in poverty reduction through agriculture, rural development and research.
Under Dr Nwanze's leadership, IFAD stepped up its advocacy efforts to ensure that agriculture
is a central part of the international development agenda, and that the concerns and needs of
smallholders and other poor rural people are recognised by governments around the world.
He also increased the number of outposted country program managers and expanded the
number of country offices. This increased country presence, and the direct supervision by IFAD of
its projects, helps make them more effective.
In recognition of Nwanze's intellectual leadership on issues of food security, he was asked to
chair the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Food Security in 2010.
His background is in agricultural science, earning degrees from the University of Ibadan in
Nigeria and Kansas State University in the US. As Director-General of the Africa Rice Center, Dr
Nwanze was instrumental in introducing and promoting New Rice for Africa (NERICA), a high-
yielding, drought and pest-resistant variety developed specifically for the African landscape. He
also transformed the Africa Rice Center from a West African to an Africa-wide organisation with
an international reputation for excellence.
Dr Nwanze has held senior positions at several research centres affiliated with the
Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) in Africa and Asia, and he was
instrumental in the establishment of the Alliance of CGIAR Centers.
During a visit to Canberra in April, Dr Nwanze visited ACIAR to discuss food security issues,
especially in relation to African smallholder farmers. The talks dealt with the need for strategies
that better allow smallholder famers to contribute to the 70% increase in food production
required by 2050.
This increase must come from existing agricultural land---
largely through environmentally sustainable intensification---
creating a need for innovative agricultural R&D and extension
services to smallholders within projects that integrate
production systems and the value chain, including market
This approach squares with ACIAR research programs where
productivity, profitability and sustainability are components
that are routinely integrated into the design of projects across
Dr Kanayo Nwanze, president of the
International Fund for Agricultural Development.
PHOTO: GUIDO FUA'
rural women and men to lift themselves out of
poverty and create a future for their children.
But making the most of it requires policies and
investments that are both market-oriented and
For a start, governments and the
international community need to reverse the
long-standing neglect of rural development.
We need to improve governance in rural areas
and create an economic environment that will
allow smallholder farmers to grow both food
and their businesses.
We need to invest in rural infrastructure and
in building the skills of rural people, so they can
exploit new opportunities in agricultural markets
or find jobs in non-farm industries. If we help
them strengthen their collective capabilities, they
will be able to support each other in managing
risks, learning new techniques to improve
productivity and marketing their products.
And we need to invest in youth. In
developing countries, young people aged
15 to 24 make up 20% of the population. In
rural areas, many of them are growing up on
smallholder farms. We must invest in those
young, creative minds so they can develop the
skills to run their farms like small businesses.
Anyone who has spent any time with
farmers in developing countries knows that
they are dynamic, innovative people whose
hard work will ultimately lead the way to
development and prosperity.
At stake is the security of the global food
supply. Agricultural production must increase
70% by 2050, and output in developing
countries will have to double, if we are to keep
food on the table for the nine billion people
expected on Earth by then.
I have no doubt that Li, Shazia and Ribita are
up to the challenge. Are the rest of us? n
PHOTO: GEORGINA GOODWIN
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