Marked by deepening cycle of hunger and malnutrition, persistent poverty, limited economic opportunities and environmental degradation, rural areas continue to be in a state of crisis globally, a United States-based institute said on Wednesday.
This is threatening to slow the progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), global climate targets, and improved food and nutrition security, the 2019 Global Food Policy report released by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) said.
Rural areas remain underserved compared to urban areas and face a wide array of challenges across the globe. These include environmental crisis in China, acute shortage of jobs for the growing youth populations in Africa and severe agrarian crisis in India's rural areas.
To overcome these challenges, the report calls for rural revitalisation, highlighting policies, institutions, and investments that can transform rural areas into vibrant and healthy places to live, work and raise families.
"Revitalising rural areas can stimulate economic growth and begin to address the crises in developing countries, and also tackle challenges holding back achievement of the SDGs and climate goals by 2030," said IFPRI Director General Shenggen Fan.
"Rural revitalisation is timely, achievable, and, most important, critical to ending hunger and malnutrition in just over a decade," said Fan.
A majority of the world's poor live in rural areas: rural populations account for 45.3 per cent of the world's total population, but 70 per cent of the world's extremely poor.
The global poverty rate in rural areas is currently 17 per cent, more than double the urban poverty rate of 7 per cent.
"Rural transformation requires a holistic economic approach to connect rural and urban economies. Strengthening these connections can spur growth and diversification in the farm and non-farm sectors, closing socio-economic and quality-of-life gaps between urban and rural areas," said United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) head Achim Steiner, who co-authored the lead chapter in the report.
The report emphasises that rural areas could become premiere hubs of innovations in just under a decade.
It recommends revitalising rural areas with a focus on five building blocks: creating farm and non-farm rural employment opportunities; achieving gender equality; addressing environmental challenges; improving access to energy; and investing in good governance.
In South Asia, too, there is a greater emphasis on growth in rural employment, and agricultural productivity through strengthening of the agriculture-based rural non-farm economy, said Pramod Joshi, director for South Asia, IFPRI, and co-author of the report chapter on South Asia.
This year's report also features chapters on how Europe's experience can provide lessons for rural revitalisation in developing countries; food policy trends from Africa, Asia, Latin America and other regions; updated data on food policy indicators and more.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)