Katalin Ludvig, M.Sc.
FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia, Budapest, Hungary
Rural livelihood and rural poverty remain an issue in Europe and Central Asia, and this is also linked to the migration from rural areas. Migration can have several reasons. Conflict, violence and natural disasters are among the root causes of migration and forced displacement. Several migrants are also compelled to move because of socio-economic factors, including poverty, food insecurity, lack of employment opportunities and limited access to social protection. On the other hand, migration may also contribute to agriculture and rural development in the countries of origin. Remittances relax liquidity constrains and provide opportunity for investing in agriculture and rural development.
Regarding the root causes of migration, eradication of poverty cannot be reached without raising rural employment and rural incomes. Agriculture is a major source of employment in many countries of the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Western Balkans and Eastern Europe. In these countries ensuring improved livelihood and decent conditions of employment would crucially depend on development of the agriculture sector.
Policies and programmes have a key role in shaping the outcome of migration in terms of agriculture and rural development. FAO has a long history in supporting rural development in the beneficiary countries in the region at policy level through technical assistance for the preparation of rural development strategies and programmes, as well as at community level through development and implementation of community development plans. The presentation will demonstrate the experiences of FAO in the region through the implementation of the Regional Initiative on empowering smallholders and farms, as an integrated and cross-sectorial approach.