South Africa’s Fetsa Tlala, a government-led initiative, helps support subsistence and smallholder farmers expand cultivated land to food production.
South Africa’s Fetsa Tlala, a government-led initiative, helps support subsistence and smallholder farmers expand cultivated land to food production.

Brics Can Help Tackle Global Hunger, Poverty

Brics countries could play a leading role as all five have strong agricultural research systems working on developing countries’ challenges

Brics Can Help Tackle Global Hunger, Poverty

As the clock ticks towards the 2030 deadline for meeting global goals to eradicate hunger and poverty, the United Nations agriculture agency Friday asserted that five vitally important emerging economies, known collective as the Brics countries, are well positioned to take a leading role in helping the world achieve these targets.
These five countries–Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa–form an economic block that accounts for more than 40% of the world's population and over 20% of global gross domestic product. Together, they produce more than one-third of global cereal production, with Russia becoming the largest wheat exporter in the world, un.org reported.
“The Brics countries play an important political role in the international arena. Developing countries around the world look to your successes in economic development over the past few decades as an example to follow,” said Kundhavi Kadiresan, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, during a statement to the 7th Meeting of the Brics Ministers of Agriculture, in Nanjing, China.
“Your experiences provide a path that can help us all meet our global collective commitments, namely those of the 2030 Agenda–its 17 Sustainable Development Goals–and the Paris Agreement (on climate change),” added Kadiresan.
She pointed out that, despite trends towards urbanization, as poverty in the world today is primarily rural, accelerating rural development will be key to achieving the SDGs. “The question is how can we do this?” continued the regional representative. “Our experiences in countries in different parts of the world have shown that it can best be done through a combination of agricultural growth and targeted social protection, but also through growth in the rural nonfarm economy.”
She underscored that agriculture can be a driver of sustained and inclusive rural growth, saying “In low-income countries, growth originating from agriculture is twice as effective in reducing poverty as growth originating from other sectors of the economy."
All tools, approaches and technologies must also be accessible to poor farmers in developing countries for increased production and productivity.
An excellent example is South Africa's Fetsa Tlala, a government-led initiative to support subsistence and smallholder farmers expand cultivated land to food production.

Agricultural Growth
Achieving agricultural growth would require research and development investments, in which Brics countries could play a leading role as all five have strong agricultural research systems working on developing countries' challenges. Biotechnology and agro-ecological approaches would also be essential.
Information and communication technologies are becoming more widespread by the day, and they offer a promising approach to address many of the challenges small farmers face with regard to information on prices, weather forecasts, vaccines, financial services, and much more.
FAO is collaborating with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the International Food Policy Research Institute to make sure these technologies benefit smallholders.
Kadirelso points out that social protection programs also play a key role in rural development–reducing poverty, benefitting health and strengthening family farmer confidence.

Social Protection Programs Needed
Agricultural growth, as important as it is, cannot eradicate hunger and poverty all by itself—social protection programs can also play a key role in rural development. These programs have important poverty reduction and health benefits, and can also strengthen the confidence of family farmers, encouraging them to become more entrepreneurial. Brazil's Fome Zero and India's National Rural Employment Guarantee Act are global references in this regard.
Kadiresan stressed that it is important not to overlook the key role played by the rural nonfarm economy in fostering rural development.
"As economies transform, most farm households obtain significant income from activities other than farming. The income from these activities provides not only a higher standard of living, but also a more stable one in many cases. Governments play a key role in encouraging this transformation by investing in rural health and education," Kadiresan said. "While these investments are typically not within the ministry of agriculture's mandate, we must support such investments, as they are in the interest of our rural constituents. Where would any of us be today without the opportunities provided by our former teachers and a strong educational system?"


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