Why Invest in Rural Development?

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World Food Day - October 16, 2017

By C.D. Glin, President/CEO

Right now populations are on the move in search of better employment opportunities within and across countries. Without stable food security, people are more likely to pick up in search of more prosperous livelihoods—in 2015, there were over 240 million international migrants, the majority coming from rural areas. Reducing rural poverty and increasing economic opportunities are key to not only addressing the root causes of migration, but to fighting hunger. Today, World Food Day, reminds us that hunger affects over one billion people in the world and is one of the key drivers of migration.

The U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) works at the grassroots level to assist emerging businesses to build the foundation of economic prosperity. Rural development can address factors that compel people to move by creating new business opportunities and jobs for young people. USADF gives farmers a voice and a choice in their economic development priorities, working at the grassroots to assist hundreds of emerging businesses to develop better enterprise management skills, improve production and distribution capabilities, and access larger markets.  Over 70 percent of USADF investments are in the agricultural sector, aimed at improving food security and productivity. Our purpose and focus is on creating pathways to prosperity for underserved communities, those at the first mile of development.

In Nigeria, where insecurity and hunger threaten stability, USADF is addressing critical constraints with smallholder farmers to accelerate agriculture-led economic growth. With food insecurity threatening places like Kaduna, Kano and the Niger Delta, USADF invests in long-term solutions to enterprise development. For example, in Kaduna State in northern Nigeria, USADF is working with sorghum producers to consolidate and market sorghum to large buyers and purchase high quality seed which enable farmers to obtain higher prices and higher yields. Our farmers not only increased their yields by 87 percent  but also saw their incomes increase threefold, impacting the livelihoods of over 50,000 people.

Earlier this year, I visited Mali, where migration and violence are everyday challenges. USADF is supporting community enterprises to expand to sell to the World Food Program (WFP) and generate food security reserves to replace external reliance on food aid.  Diedougou Cereal Cooperative employs over 2,000 farmers, and contributes to Mali’s food security by selling surplus corn, sorghum, cowpeas and millet to organizations such as WFP. With a USADF enterprise expansion grant of $110,000, Diedougou Cooperative has tripled its access to commercial loans. With more cash flow, the cooperative can immediately purchase its members’ cereals for re-sale and pay farmers on the spot. By focusing at the grassroots to build more resilient livelihoods and pathways to prosperity, enterprises like Diedougou can build stable, prosperous businesses, reduce rural poverty and achieve food security.

By creating economic opportunities and promoting self-sufficiency, USADF aims to put underserved communities on a long-term pathway to food security and stability through enterprise development. This is more than just assistance-- this is developing the tools necessary for long-term, sustained growth.