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FAO canvasses improved rural economy to curb migration

By Victor Gbonegun
16 October 2018   |   3:25 am
United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has advised developing countries to strengthen the development of the rural economy to accommodate young people. In a recent report, FAO lamented inadequate resources and attention to agriculture, a main focus of rural development, stressing that modernising the sector in poor areas could yield substantial benefits, raise productivity…

Food and Agricultural Organisation

United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has advised developing countries to strengthen the development of the rural economy to accommodate young people.

In a recent report, FAO lamented inadequate resources and attention to agriculture, a main focus of rural development, stressing that modernising the sector in poor areas could yield substantial benefits, raise productivity and provide the pull needed to keep young people close to where they live rather than migrate to cities.

Specifically, it said that jobs in agricultural value chains could provide attractive opportunities for rural people in their hometowns.

Entitled ‘The State of Food and Agriculture 2018 Report’, the document, which focuses on migration, agriculture and rural development, states that international aid donors often target development in poor countries as a way of stemming migration, forgetting that people get enough money to cover their migration costs but not enough to encourage them to stay.

The report emphasises that improving agriculture and infrastructure, health, education and social services in rural areas could reduce people moving in large numbers to the cities.

Director-general of FAO, José Graziano da Silva, wrote in a foreword to the report: “Rural migration is closely linked not only with agriculture and rural development but also with overall development of societies.

It has accompanied the gradual process whereby labour is transferred from agriculture to more productive sectors in manufacturing and services that are often located in urban areas, thus contributing to rising incomes and economic, social and human development.

“In many high-income countries, this process has reached the point where agriculture in rural areas is economically viable only to the extent that immigrant labour is available.”

According to the organisation, there is far more migration within countries than internationally, but the subject receives far less attention leading to more than a billion people in developing countries having to move internally, with 80 per cent of those moves involving rural areas.

“Migration between developing countries is also slightly greater than migration from poor to rich nations.

People who have already moved within their own country are much more likely to become international migrants, according to the report.

“Farming can be perilous in developing countries, subject to shocks and crises from natural disasters or man-made problems. Too little is being done to shield families from these shocks and enable them to survive through lean times,” the report added.