Rural Farms Face Increasing Insecurity, Managing Risk Essential: Report

Viewing poor rural farmers as business owners is one way out of chronic poverty.

Poor farmers in remote parts of the world need to viewed as business owners, first and foremost, says a new report released today by the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

The overall theme of the report is a return to focusing on agriculture as business and interacting with farmers from that vantage point, rather than seeing them as "bystanders."

Half of the world's total population, 3.1 billion people, live in rural areas, and 70% of the world's extremely poor live in rural areas. While urbanization is occurring rapidly--and diversified industries are popping up related to farming--the rural poor will remain dominant for years to come.

In order to eliminate poverty, the rural poor need better access to markets, job prospects off the farm, training in how to manage risks associated with climate change and food insecurity, and training in sustainable agricultural output, says the report.

"We must also recognize that rural economies are becoming more diverse. If we succeed in creating more profitable farms, we will also succeed in creating associated non-farm enterprises. Some people will leave the farm for new jobs with large enterprises in rural areas, while others will choose to become entrepreneurs in non-farming pursuits," said IFAD President, Dr. Kanayo F. Nwanze, in the report.

Micro-insurance, social protections, and skills trainings will all be essential in the global fight to eliminate rural, extreme poverty, says the report, as poverty is not always a static condition and often times households go in and out of poverty depending on illnesses, weather and crop-related challenges, and other unpredictable circumstances.

"Poor rural people have less resilience than less-poor people because they have fewer assets to fall back on when shocks occur. When they do occur, poor people may have to resort to coping strategies that involve incurring debt, selling assets, or foregoing on education opportunities for children and youth – all of which leave them that much more vulnerable to future shocks," says the report.

Thus by providing better economic security, the rural poor have a better chance of making their way out of poverty for the long-term.

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[Top image: flickr user ILRI; Bottom image: flickr user Adam Jones, PhD

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