Despite significant progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals on poverty and hunger, almost a billion people still live in extreme poverty (less than $1.25 per person per day) and 795 million still suffer from chronic hunger. Much more will have to be done to achieve the new Sustainable Development Goals on eradicating poverty and hunger by 2030. Most of the extreme poor live in rural areas of developing countries and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. They are so poor and malnourished that their families live in a cycle of poverty that passes from generation to generation.
Many developing countries are adopting a successful new strategy for breaking the cycle of rural poverty – combining social protection and agricultural development. Social protection measures such as cash benefits for widows and orphans and guaranteed public works employment for the poor can protect vulnerable people from the worst deprivation. It can allow households to increase and diversify their diets. It can also help them save and invest on their own farms and or start new businesses. Agricultural development programmes that support small family farms in accessing markets and managing risks can create employment opportunities that make these families more self-reliant and resilient. Social protection and agricultural development, working together, can break the cycle of rural poverty.