Agricultural investment is solution to addressing poverty and inequality in Near East and North Africa

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According to a new report by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), income inequality and a rising rural-urban divide compounded by political instability are the most challenging issues in the near East and North Africa.

“Understanding how rural development can alleviate rural-urban poverty gaps is key. Inclusive rural transformation isn’t some abstract phenomenon – it’s a choice and governments and development partners need to come together to make it happen,” said Perin Saint Ange, Associate Vice-President of IFAD.

The report emphasizes on the role of agriculture in tackling poverty and inequality and in fostering economic development in rural areas as well as calling for policymakers and development practitioners to win war against rural poverty.

Armed conflicts have over the past three decades displaced thousands of people in the North Africa region. As a result, countries with chronic fragility may urbanize prematurely as people tend to seek both security and jobs in urban areas, leaving the agricultural sector rarely explored.

“The cost of lost opportunities for young people is compounded as today’s excluded youth become tomorrow’s poor,” said Khalida Bouzar, IFAD’s Director of the Near East, North Africa and Europe Division.

Youth unemployment in the Near East and North Africa region stands at 30% and remains higher than any other region in the world.

However, young people have been urged to embrace agriculture and agribusiness as it could help foster their absorption into the formal economy.

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