Rural poverty and agriculture in Asia-Pacific, focus of consultation
by SEARCA Newsmaster
Manila (25 July) -- "There is an increasing attention on agriculture due to rising commodity prices. Hopefully, it would increase long-term investments in the sector since rural poverty levels in Asia Pacific are expected to increase in the coming years," said Dr. Ganesh Thapa, Regional Economist, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), at the opening ceremony of the Asia/Pacific Regional Consultation on IFAD Rural Poverty Report 2009 held at Sofitel Philippine Plaza on 22 July 2008.
Dr. Thapa revealed that there had been a secular decline in support for agriculture and rural development projects in previous years. Aside from that, the risks and vulnerabilities in Asia Pacific are also becoming more apparent in the areas of climate change, public health, economics, and rising inequality. These result to poverty diminishing impact on poverty reducing growth and social impact.
Dr. Arsenio M. Balisacan, SEARCA Director, expressed in his welcome remarks that he is very pleased with IFAD and SEARCA's rekindled relationship, particularly in this time when concern or agriculture and rural poverty has become the centerpiece of public policy. Thus, he noted that developing institutions and incentive systems are becoming more relevant and urgent today.
Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Chair, United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, remarked "The emerging issues facing us today are the problems that are going to hit us very hard in the future." She revealed that high-level agricultural subsidies are killing small farmers, adding that 91% of 1.5 million hectares of agricultural land are now put to export crops to feed cars and cattle, instead of people. She said that small farmers' capacities need to be strengthened because these farmers are key to food security. She cited her community as an example to concretize such claim. In indigenous communities such as hers, where people practice subsistence agriculture, nobody gets hungry.
The Asia/Pacific Regional Consultation on IFAD Rural Poverty Report 2009 is a joint collaboration between IFAD and SEARCA. Established in 1979, IFAD is an international financing institution in agricultural development, giving priority to less favored areas, women's empowerment, indigenous peoples and marginalized groups, and building organizations of the poor. (MAFAbad) [top]