THE International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD, has urged the Federal Government to focus its investment in rural transformation for massive food production and security.
This was made known by the President, IFAD, Kanayo Nwanze, while assessing agro-industrial development in rural areas of the country.
Nwanze who also has been passionate and concerned about youth engagement in agriculture said they can be attracted to the sector if the rural areas were transformed with basic infrastructure and other incentives.
According to him “We need the youth of today to be the farmers tomorrow, but for that to happen, we must transform our rural areas. Why are we creating jobs in other countries when we have more than 200 million young people, and so many are unemployed?
“I mean development that is centred on people-development that invests in them. I mean investing in change that is social as well as economic so that rural areas are socially viable and economically vibrant. I mean investing in change that is comprehensive and inclusive in its nature, and lasting in its impact.
“The benefits of rural transformation reach far and wide. All of us stand to gain when there is flow of goods, services and money between rural and urban areas. All of us benefit from healthy food, clean water and fresh air.
“By investing in rural transformation we can create a range of opportunities for young people in our rural areas so that they are not compelled to migrate to urban centres and big cities where they too often fall prey to divisive rhetoric and extremism. We need to offer these young men and women opportunities to build their lives and realise their dreams in rural areas.”
According to the IFAD boss, rural development can be done and must be done, but the change must start from within. IFAD and others in development can offer support and invest and work as partners.
“Government has an important role to play, by introducing policies that encourage investment in the agro-industrial sector at every point along the value chain. These policies must encourage inclusive and transparent partnerships, so that poor rural people are not left behind, exploited or excluded.
The policies must encourage inclusive business models. They must create a conducive climate for entrepreneurs. And they must facilitate the ability of poor farmers to access finance and technology, and to have rights to water and land”, Nwanze stated.