DOREEN NAWA, Kasama
INTERNATIONAL Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) president Gilbert Houngbo says agriculture and rural development are the best answer to migration of people from the countryside to urban areas.
Mr Houngbo, who is in the country to visit IFAD-funded agricultural projects, says there is need for Zambia and Africa as a whole to come up with policies that will prioritise rural transformation.
He said here on Sunday that currently, a considerably high number of migrants move within their countries, mainly from rural to urban areas or from one rural area to another, in search of better livelihoods because most rural areas are underdeveloped.
Mr Houngbo said migration can have positive and negative impacts on rural livelihoods and food security.
He said currently, migrants, who are mainly adult youths, are a
potential resource for agriculture and rural development as well as poverty reduction in their areas of origin.
“The migration of rural youths can result in loss of an
important share of the most vital and dynamic part of the workforce, with obvious consequences for agricultural productivity.
“Moreover, migration is reshaping the traditional social and
economic structure of rural areas mainly dependent on agriculture,” he said.
Mr Houngbo said there is urgent need for a policy that promotes agriculture and rural development.
“In particular, policies aiming to reduce distress migration of rural youths should factor in the need to generate viable options for rural youths in farm and non-farm activities,” he said.
And Mr Houngbo said food security and nutrition among women and youths are non-negotiable.
Mr Houngbo is also pleased at the school feeding programmes in Lwabwe and Nkolemfumu, where IFAD is running projects on conservation farming and irrigation.
He said the school feeding programmes are critical for better class attendance and pupils’ health.
And in a vote of thanks, Ruth Chileshe, a widow of Lwabwe community, said conservation farming has transformed her life to an extent where she has managed to light up her house using solar.
“Before I was introduced to conservation agriculture, I was using conventional methods of farming which are labour-intensive with very minimal yield, but now my story has changed,” Ms Chileshe said.
IFAD is supporting about 60, 000 households engaged in conservation agriculture in Muchinga, Luapula and Northern provinces.