Today the Holy Father praised members of the Rome-based International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) for their efforts in reducing poverty in rural areas of the world. He told the organization, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, that love must be the primary motivator in the war against poverty.
Expressing his thanks for IFAD’s 30 years of work, Pope Benedict said that it is especially important in the face of great “instability in the prices of agricultural products.” He specifically noted one of the group’s endeavors called the “rural credit” project which helps smallholder farmers with no land of their own. Projects such as these, the Pope noted “can boost the wider economy and provide greater food security for all.”
Additionally, he added, IFAD’s efforts also assist native communities by helping them “flourish on their own soil” instead of forcing them to uproot “in order to seek employment in overcrowded cities, teeming with social problems, where they often have to endure squalid living conditions."
These programs are particularly helpful because all too often, those who work in agriculture are exploited, the Pope noted. This happens when “their produce is diverted to distant markets, with little or no resulting benefit for the local community itself."
Looking at the current state of world affairs, the Holy Father reminded the group that there is a 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."
To do this, we must be motivated by love, explained the Pontiff. “Love for the poor, love that cannot tolerate injustice or deprivation, love that refuses to rest until poverty and hunger are banished from our midst.”
The Pontiff finished his remarks by saying that ridding the world of extreme poverty and hunger is “far from being over-ambitious or unrealistic,” but rather should be a requirement of the entire international community.