Rural Development Report 2016

International Fund for Agricultural Development

IFAD, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, set up in December 1977 and headquartered in Rome, is a specialized agency of the United Nations with the purpose of providing funds and mobilising additional resources for programmes specifically designed to promote the economic advancement of poor inhabitants of rural areas by improving their agricultural production.

Its 2016 Rural Development Report focuses on inclusive rural transformation as a key tool for eliminating poverty and hunger and creating inclusive, sustainable societies.

The report argues that although millions of people in the region have escaped poverty in recent decades, inequality continues to be extraordinarily high in the region, with a quarter of the population in an economically vulnerable situation.

The report makes clear that in order for Latin America and the Caribbean to beat poverty, rural transformation needs to be tackled in an integrated way that goes beyond simply increasing farming productivity. It urges that easier access for smallholder farmers to basic services (land, infrastructure, health, finance) should be made available, and help given to set up stronger local, regional and national institutions.

According to the report, in recent decades major progress has been made in overcoming the traditional opposition between city and countryside, so that now agriculture is not the only economic activity in rural areas, where more and more families combine farming and non-farming activities to earn their living.

This complex reality throws up opportunities and challenges that require policymakers and development professionals to update their approach to rural poverty.

The report says that Bolivia is the only case from all the Latin American countries analysed in which poverty reduction has continued apace even though the transformation of its national and rural economy has been sluggish. The example of Bolivia shows that appropriate, well-targeted policies are efficient in reducing poverty.