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2016-08_dc

18 D+C  e-Paper  August 2016 Without transport options, Mali could not export cotton. Stefan Schmitz heads the One World No Hunger initiative and ranks as deputy director general at Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). [email protected] Unblocking investments The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are meant to bring about a world without hunger, and their aspirations are realistic. Business as usual, how- ever, will not do. Words must be followed up with action, especially in rural areas. That is where three quarters of the world’s poor and hungry people live. Wemustprepareruralregionsforthefuture–notonlyin ordertoeradicatehunger,butjustasmuchtoachievethe otherSDGs.Wemustensurethatpeoplehaveprospects. Strong rural infrastructure is of the essence. Rural areas all over the world are undergoing structural change at various speeds. Human labour in the agri- culture and food sectors is becoming more produc- tive due to capital investments and enhanced knowl- edge. Innovation has become the most important driving force. Policymakers should support this trend – and make use of it by gearing structural change to sustainability and social equity. Ultimately, change is driven by the investment deci- sions of millions and millions of individuals – consider smallholder farmers, input providers and merchants, for instance, or food processors, the providers of financial services and many others. The speed and impact of their investments, however, depend on the business environment that policymakers and public administrations bring about. Research shows that public expenditure on infra- structure matters. Relevant issues include electrifica- tion, roads, telecommunication, rail and port facili- ties, irrigation, smallholder-oriented agricultural research and development, but also farmer educa- tion, extension services, schools, health stations, drinking-water supply and sanitation. They all boost competitiveness at the local level and help smallhold- ers to profit from agricultural value chains. Most often, government initiatives are needed, but pru- dent regulation can facilitate meaningful infrastruc- ture contributions from private-sector companies too. The fundamental challenge is to create conditions that are conducive to job generation in rural areas. This is especially true in Africa, a continent that is not well placed in the global economy to create jobs in manufacturing. The core issue is to invest in sectors according to a region’s specific potentials. For obvi- ous reasons, it makes sense to foster development in agriculture and food processing, whilst also support- ing related sectors that either provide inputs or pur- chase products. Once agriculture and food businesses begin to thrive, additional incomes are generated. This money will stimulate local demand for building materials, clothes, transport opportunities, service providers et cetera, leading to yet more employment. This is how endogenous, sustainable development is triggered at the rural level. Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Coopera- tion and Development (BMZ) is convinced that a broad-based, holistic approach is needed to over- come hunger and malnutrition. Accordingly, it is supporting the growth of agriculture, the back- bone of rural development. At the same time, the BMZ is investing in many sectors that are linked to farming, including physical and social infrastruc- ture, services and sustainable resource manage- ment. The BMZ has substantially boosted its efforts in the past two years in the context of its One World No Hunger initiative. It is now involved in matters of strategic relevance that were previously neglected, including the promotion of innovations in agricul- ture and food sectors, taking cross-cutting approaches to food security and protecting the quality of soils. We have agreed joint programmes on food security and rural development with 15 partner countries. The BMZ is investing an annual € 1.5 billion. Together with its partners it wants to unblock investments and promote science-based, modern approaches in agriculture and food indus- tries, for example, by establishing green innovation centres. Böthling/Photography

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