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Experts: investment in smallholder agriculture best bet to reduce poverty

Xinhua, February 20, 2014 Adjust font size:

Smallholder family farmers need collaboration with companies, as well as long-term and sustainable support from governments, experts said at the annual meeting of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) on Thursday.

Paul Polman, Unilever CEO, highlighted the importance of partnership between family farmers, companies and governments.

"We need government to build the infrastructure and we also need the government to train the smallholder family farmers," Polman said.

"We have to convince governments that investment in smallholder agriculture is best bet to reduce poverty and food security," he added.

Unilever, one of the largest food and personal care products producers in the world, will sign a memorandum of understanding with IFAD later today, to work together with the smallholder family farmers.

Governments have a role to play in addressing credit gaps and other market failures that hold back small rural producers, said Andrew Rugasira, CEO of the Uganda-based Good African Coffee Co.

Billions of people in the world depend on the developing countries' 500 million small farms and the families who run them, according to IFAD.

"They are key to food security. They are stewards of a large part of the world's natural resources -- resources that both urban and rural people depend on," said Kanayo Nwanze, president of IFAD.

Agriculture has the greater potential to drive economic growth and inclusive development than ever before. Therefore, investing is the vital opportunity to the smallholder family farmers, highlighted Nwanze.

Headquartered in Rome, IFAD -- a specialized agency of the United Nations established in 1977 -- has 172 member states and serves as an international financial institution.

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