Rural people around the world continue to struggle with food security, persistent poverty and inequality and environmental degradation says the 2019, Global Food Policy Report put out by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and presented last Thursday at Hilton Hotel. It highlights the urgency of rural revitalization to address the crises in rural areas.
For over 40 years, IFPRI has worked with partners in Africa at the country, regional, and continental levels to provide cutting edge, policy-relevant research on food and nutrition security for policy makers, development partners, and stakeholders. Sharing researches and engaging through capacity building and dialogue, informs effective policies, programs, and investments to help ensure that all people have access to safe, sufficient, nutritious, and sustainably grown food.
Shenggen Fann is the Director General of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) since December 2009, based in Washington DC.
He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Nanjing Agricultural University in China. In 1989, he graduated from the College of Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Sciences from University of Minnesota with a Ph.D. in Applied Economics. His research was the first to separately measure the effects of the green revolution promoted by international agricultural research, technological change, and institutional changes in China, on the productivity of the Chinese agricultural system
Before he joined IFPRI, he worked as an associate research officer at the International Service for National Agricultural Research in the Hague, Netherlands from 1990-1992, and then a research economist at the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. From there, he joined IFPRI in 1995.
He responded to Capital’s questions about his organization and the recent report.
Capital: What does your institute do?
Fann: The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) provides research-based policy solutions to sustainably reduce poverty and end hunger and malnutrition in developing countries. It was established in 1975, IFPRI currently has more than 600 employees working in over 50 countries. It is a research center of CGIAR which is a worldwide partnership engaged in agricultural research for development with the vision making the world free of hunger and malnutrition.
Capital: What do you mean by rural revitalization?
Fann: Rural revitalization is a way of positively transforming rural areas for present and future generations, as ‘Rurbanomics’ is an approach to revitalization that frames rural economies as equal partners with urban economies, emphasizing the vitality of rural economies.
It is forging links between rural and urban economies, not only with megacities but also with smaller towns and cities, will play a major role in revitalization, particularly in improving employment opportunities to boost rural incomes and rural-urban market links that can provide both urban and rural populations with healthy diets. Rural revitalization will also require investments in the off-farm and nonfarm sectors, information and communication technologies, education, governance, rural health, and a healthy environment. These building blocks can create vibrant rural areas that can attract and retain employed, educated, and healthy rural residents having revitalizations has many elements in it, Agriculture health education and jobs in rural areas.
Revitalizing rural areas can stimulate economic growth and begin to address the crises in developing countries, and also tackle challenges holding back achievement of the SDGs and climate goals by 2030.
Rural revitalization is timely, achievable, and, most important, critical to ending hunger and malnutrition in just over a decade.
Capital: What is the global food policy report?
Fann: The report is all about the issues of food security. The institute is released report on global Food policy for the last eight years with various themes every year; this year’s topic is rural revitalization and growing urgency to address the SDG’s.
The 2019 global Food Policy Report highlights the urgency of rural revitalization to address the crises in rural areas. Policies institutions and investment that take advantages of new opportunities and technologies increase access to basic service and creates more rural job opportunities and technologies. IFPRI reports calls for an action agenda that promotes investments in five key transformation areas .Strengthen rural- urban linkages, the transformation of agro-food system, the scaling up of non-farm opportunities for creating jobs particularly in rural areas and improving the wellbeing of rural communities and empowering local governments.
Capital: Do you think African countries will achieve SDG’S?
Fann: The first one is we have to make sure that rural areas are connected, they are isolated, there is no way. If you ask me there is no way for development without connecting by roads, by electricity even by internet for their agricultural activities.
Number two is empowering Women, we have to make women to engage in communities, and create conducive environment for access to finance, water services to ensure development.
The third one is access to Energy, without energy you will not able use internet, process food and use other technologies.
We are happy that Ethiopia is investing highly on infrastructure development like roads and energy sector which has a great role in meeting SDG’s.
Certainly, the fourth one is Governance is also the most important components, governance is local communities should have a voice heard in land policies, designing policies, designing strategies and participating them in any development endeavor is essential without integrating them, not following top-bottom approaches. I want to emphasize a bottom up approach we have to be close to help, know there need, how we can ensure any development agendas without.
Capital: What are the Challenges for African countries in order to achieve SDG’S?
Fann: There are a lot of challenges; we understand that but the political will of the government to have a strategy take’s the lion share. They may say we are committed, of course commitment is essential; however, I want to emphasize on translating promises to materialize political will in to actual implementation to make a reality, by using research, data and evidence so as to make viable decision.
Capital: What does the policy advise for the government?
Fann: Agricultural productivity growth and strengthening of the agriculture-based rural non-farm economy will be essential to ensure inclusive rural transformation,” the Global Food Policy report advised.
Capital: Anything that you want to add?
Fann: There are a lot of challenges, policy challenges, and security challenges, which we aware. Now African government should focus on Agricultural transformation, focus on rural development to ensure that agriculture, and revitalization a key.