Jakarta. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, or FAO, has highlighted the need to empower Indonesian youth and increase investment in rural areas to change migration patterns and develop the country's food and agriculture sector.
This year, World Food Day – observed annually on Oct. 16 – focused on food security and rural development.
Migrations from rural areas are common around the world, mainly as a response to increasing urbanization, poverty and the lack of opportunities, according to a press release issued by FAO on Thursday (19/10).
In Indonesia, the majority of those who live below the poverty line come from rural areas. They migrate to escape destitution.
In the past 15 years, Indonesia's rural population has shrunk by 5 million, while the number of city dwellers has grown by 50 million. This highlights the need to transform the agricultural sector to make it more attractive to the younger generations.
According to the World Bank's data from September, more than 28 million Indonesians live below the poverty line.
"The young generation is urgently needed in the rural areas. To stem the flow of migration out of the rural areas, we have to provide the right incentives, and demonstrate that being engaged in agriculture can be profitable, and provide for a comfortable living," FAO representative to Indonesia and Timor Leste, Mark Smulders, said during the World Food Day celebrations in Pontianak, West Kalimantan.
According to FAO, innovation, investment in vocational and technical schools, and financial inclusion are crucial to attract the country's youth to agriculture, fisheries and forestry.
It is also important to make sure that technological advancement in the fields becomes more accessible.
The agriculture sector has been contributing about 40 percent to the country's gross domestic product (GDP). The contribution is expected to increase, although with a slow pace. In 2016, agriculture contributed 3.3 percent to the country's economic growth, World Bank data shows.