Over the past 29 years, IFAD has committed approximately half a billion US dollars in grants to support research-for-development programmes. Many of these programmes have had an impact on small-scale agriculture throughout the developing world. Through its support to the global agricultural research system, IFAD has succeeded in drawing attention to the priority concerns of the rural poor. It has also furthered understanding of the difficulties they face, living in resource-poor areas and producing traditional crops and commodities under difficult rainfall conditions.
Rapid changes triggered by globalization, the development imperatives following the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) pledge; as well as the new challenges and opportunities posed by emergent technologies and associated products (and policies which influence their markets), call for further and deeper exploration of fresh, innovative options for addressing rural poverty. The development and dissemination of sustainable agricultural technologies of direct relevance to IFAD's target groups is a major objective of the grant programme. Improved farming systems require that technology focus on conservation and, where feasible, upgrading of the natural resources that the poor use. One challenge that Fund-financed research is addressing is to develop technologies and institutional arrangements that provide income opportunities and better nutrition for the rural poor, without mining their natural resource base.
Drawing on the success of past investments in multi-location, international agricultural research, IFAD’s strategy is to support initiatives in the adaptive research and related capacity-building context. This global/regional research strategy is based, on three related core principles
In strong recognition of this potential, IFAD's grant portfolio, has continued to support the development of innovative R&D approaches to issues affecting the rural poor. Such approaches are increasingly relevant in the context of national poverty reduction strategies and in efforts to harness science and technology towards their realisation.
IFAD has supplemented its grant support with a strong advocacy role at the policy level in forums such as the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), which has contributed to orienting the CGIAR system and its research agenda towards issues of direct concern to IFAD. As the international research system undergoes an institutional change to become more relevant to development, IFAD works as a catalyst connecting different parts of the Global Agricultural Research System. IFAD is a co-sponsor with the World Bank, FAO and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and was vice-chair of its Finance Committee (2002-5) until the committee’s role was subsumed with the CGIAR Executive Council, of which IFAD is a member.
IFAD continues to strengthen the research agenda by promoting higher performance in pro-poor impact achievement and measurement. Using the outcome of these programmes, IFAD supports knowledge sharing through the development of technical advisory notes (TANs). TANs are designed to introduce new, pro-poor technologies to a wider development community in the form of "good-practice" advice. TANs provide development workers with validated and verified technical and institutional options developed through community participatory research.
In December 2003, IFAD's Executive Board approved a Policy on Grant Financing which was updated in September 2005. The Policy included new strategic objectives, allocation modalities and implementation procedures. Grant proposals are country-specific, regional or international, depending on the nature of the innovation and impact envisaged.
Agricultural research that benefits poor people remains a significant component, building on the success of IFAD’s past investments in this area.
Greater devolution and decentralization of research is supported. This is to enable poor communities to form partnerships with researchers from the formal science institutions, thereby building on farmer innovation, local knowledge systems and informal science within participatory research programmes.
The grant programme seeks to broaden the impact of IFAD’s activities by promoting the replication and scaling up of successful approaches in rural poverty reduction. This is achieved by:
In order to increase IFAD’s influence on the poverty-reduction efforts of the international development community, specific emphasis is being placed on:
As stipulated under the Grant policy, the grant programme represents 10% of the proposed IFAD Programme of Work. Grant resources are allocated on a 50/50 basis between
Activities eligible for country-specific grants are directly aligned with country strategies, as articulated in Results-based Country Strategic Opportunities Papers, and support and complement IFAD’s loan portfolio, while responding to issues deriving from country assessments under the Performance Based Allocation System (PBAS). The focus of these is the development of innovative approaches to technical and institutional issues confronting the rural poor - increasingly, in the area of organizational and institutional development in non-agricultural areas (for example rural finance, market linkages and pro-poor policy development). They involve mobilization and strengthening of institutional capacities of both national as well as civil-society organizations to address national/local issues and support partnership formation, establishment of policy-dialogue platforms and pro-poor institutional transformation.
Since its inception IFAD has financed over 250 research grants for a total of USD approximately200 million; and around 400 grants for training and capacity building for a total of more than USD 160 million.