AFRICA – The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) proposes more funding in the agriculture sector to promote food security in rural areas, according to a new report released by the agriculture think tank.

The 2019 Global Food Policy Report recently launched in Kigali, Rwanda proposed that governments increase financial and policy support to rural communities which are largely dependent on the agriculture sector.

Speaking while officiating at the launch of the report, Rwanda’s Prime Minister, Edouard Ngirente, said that the report details evidenced-based facts, the urgency of rural revitalisation in order to address the crisis of food insecurity in rural areas.

“We strongly believe that this report will contribute to the emergence of global food policy shifts towards high investment and capitalisation for increased productivity and competitiveness of the agriculture sector,” he said.

Rural employment strategies, such as policies supporting agricultural commercialisation and off-farm employment, within broader strategies for agricultural transformation and development, the report recommended.

It also recommended the modernisation and diversification of agriculture to promote youth employment, including adoption of modern technologies and development of high-value crops, reports New Times.

In addition, the report calls for improved electricity generation to revitalise Africa’s rural areas as its presents a potential to increase consumption of healthy, nutrient-dense foods through supporting irrigation and refrigeration.

Shenggen Fan, Director General of IFPRI said that funding for agriculture is still lacking, citing Africa where, on average, countries spend between 3 and 6% of their public expenditure – which is less than the recommended minimum of 10% – under the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme.

“We must make sure that investments come to rural areas to support agriculture, agriculture research, improving market and capacity,” he said, adding that this will promote agribusiness investments.

Gérardine Mukeshimana, the Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources, said that Africa should benchmark from countries like Korea and China, whose development was driven by strong investment in agriculture for 40 years.

“The report addresses various services needed for the rural areas to develop. Among them, it talks about agriculture as a business, which refers to food system including production, transporting produce, adding value to it, and its commercialisation,” she said.

The report reviews the major food policy issues, developments and decisions of 2018, and considers challenges and opportunities ahead.

In 2018, many regions of the world faced increasing rates of hunger with global undernourishment continuing to rise for the third year in a row and stagnation in tackling malnutrition.