Friday, February 20, 2009

Vatican: Eradicating Poverty/Rural Development


VATICAN CITY, 20 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Pope today received participants in a meeting of the governing council of the Rome-based International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary this year.

Speaking English he said: "When wealthy countries and developing nations come together to make joint decisions and to determine specific criteria for each country's budgetary contribution to the Fund, it can truly be said that the various member States come together as equals, expressing their solidarity with one another and their shared commitment to eradicate poverty and hunger. In an increasingly interdependent world, joint decision-making processes of this kind are essential if international affairs are to be conducted with equity and foresight".

Continuing his remarks, the Holy Father underlined "the emphasis placed by IFAD on promoting employment opportunities within rural communities, with a view to enabling them, in the long term, to become independent of outside aid. ... In this sense the 'rural credit' projects, designed to assist smallholder farmers and agricultural workers with no land of their own, can boost the wider economy and provide greater food security for all.

"These projects", he added, "also help indigenous communities to flourish on their own soil, and to live in harmony with their traditional culture, instead of being forced to uproot themselves in order to seek employment in overcrowded cities, teeming with social problems, where they often have to endure squalid living conditions".

"The principle of subsidiarity requires that each group within society be free to make its proper contribution to the good of the whole. All too often, agricultural workers in developing nations are denied that opportunity, when their labour is greedily exploited, and their produce is diverted to distant markets, with little or no resulting benefit for the local community itself".

The Holy Father expressed his thanks for IFAD's achievements over the last thirty years, affirming the need "for renewed determination to act in harmony and solidarity with all the different elements of the human family in order to ensure equitable access to the earth's resources now and in the future".

"The goals of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, as well as promoting food security and rural development, far from being over-ambitious or unrealistic, become", he concluded, "imperatives binding upon the whole international community".

AC/.../IFAD VIS 090220 (390)

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