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Make migration a choice and not a necessity - IFAD President to tell EAT Forum


Rome, 9 June 2016 – More than 205,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean into Europe so far this year. Although the majority are fleeing conflict, others are running from poverty. What is not often recognized, according to Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), is that a large number of these migrants originate from impoverished rural areas and much can be done to stem this flow.

Speaking at the EAT Stockholm Food Forum on Monday, Nwanze will explain how investments in rural areas in developing countries can create sustainable food systems and viable economies – generating opportunities that minimise the acts of desperation making headlines in Europe.
“If people can earn a decent income, feed their families and believe in a positive future, then migration becomes a choice rather than a necessity,” Nwanze said before his departure to Stockholm. “If we invest in rural people, we are investing in sustainable food systems. If we abandon them, we will feel the ripple effects in Europe and beyond.”
The EAT Forum will bring together speakers from the fields of science, business, politics and civil society to talk about how to build sustainable food systems that also protect our planet.

President Nwanze is one of the speakers opening the Forum and he will talk about the importance of developing rural areas, home to more than three billion people – almost half the world’s population. Although most of them work on small farms producing food for their communities, ironically more than 70 per cent of them are the world’s poorest and hungriest people.
“Hungry people are desperate people,” said Nwanze. “If they don’t see a positive future they will abandon their farms and migrate, threatening the food systems of entire countries.”

Climate change and the increasing frequency of extreme weather events are compounding the situation. Already an average of 22.5 million people are displaced by natural disasters every year. “Poor rural people are not looking for hand-outs. They are looking for economic opportunities,” said Nwanze. “Our investments can transform rural areas into vibrant places where people can sustainably grow food and earn incomes even in the face of climate change and other shocks.

Our investments can ensure people have decent and dignified lives.”
The EAT Forum will be held in Stockholm on 13 and 14 June. Other speakers include celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and members of the Swedish and Norwegian royal families.

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