(See also Global Practices.) One of 14 new World Bank Group Global Practices, Agriculture is the most powerful tool available for ending global poverty and boosting shared prosperity.

World Bank Group and Agriculture

Seventy-five percent of the world's poor people live in rural areas; most are involved in farming; and agriculture remains fundamental in the 21st century to eliminating poverty, increasing economic growth, boosting shared prosperity, and promoting environmental sustainability, especially in the context of climate change.

Agriculture accounts for one-third of gross domestic product and three-quarters of employment in Sub-Saharan Africa. Agricultural development is an especially pro-poor source of economic growth— about two to four times more effective in raising incomes among very poor people than growth in other sectors.

Agriculture is more vulnerable to climate change than any other sector, and it is the only sector that can take carbon out of the atmosphere. Worldwide, almost 70 percent of freshwater is used for agriculture. Agriculture and changes in land use are responsible for between 19 and 29 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Global food prices remain near historic peaks, and food price volatility needs to be seen as the "new normal." A food system that shifts from being a major contributor to climate change to being part of the solution is needed.

The Bank Group's updated Agriculture Action Plan 2013-15 emphasizes five key areas for action: raising agricultural productivity; linking farmers to markets; reducing risk, vulnerability, and gender inequality; improving nonfarm rural employment; and making agriculture more environmentally sustainable, as well as a source of positive environmental services.

To help countries meet food and nutrition needs and to raise the incomes of smallholder farmers, the World Bank Group is expanding its support to agriculture and related sectors, reaching $8-10 billion per year during 2013-15, up from an average of $7 billion per year during 2010-12. World Bank and IDA agricultural assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa was particularly strong, reaching $1.4 billion, a 35 percent increase over average assistance during fiscal 2010-13. All of IFC's agricultural lending, $3.8 billion in fiscal 2014, goes to agribusiness value chains.

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