Enabling poor rural people
to overcome poverty



Release number IFAD/25/08

IFAD President urges action now to ensure high yields from next harvest

Rome, 25 April 2008-IFAD is making up to US$200 million available to support poor farmers preparing for the forthcoming cropping season. 

Lennart Båge, President of IFAD, speaking after the meeting of IFAD’s Executive Board, outlined how US$200 million of IFAD funds could be used to help boost agricultural production for the next cropping season and so respond to the immediate needs of poor rural farmers and the rest of the world:

“Hundreds of millions of poor people face hunger and malnutrition because of rising food prices. The capacity of the world’s 450 million smallholder farmers to respond by growing more food is at risk because of spiralling energy and fertiliser prices,” Båge said.  “Poor farmers are not reaping the benefits of higher food prices because they cannot afford the fertiliser or seeds to plant next season’s crops. 

“Poor rural farmers are central to any solution to today’s global food crisis and the long term problems of hunger and poverty.” 

Båge spoke of the need for a concerted, comprehensive and coordinated effort by the international community, without which millions of poor people would face the prospect of slipping back into abject poverty: 

“A three-pronged approach is needed: first, emergency food aid to feed the hungry today; secondly, immediate support in the short-term to allow smallholder farmers to plant next season’s crops; and thirdly, longer term investment in agriculture to guarantee food security, nutrition and rural development and to eliminate the root causes of hunger. 

“The world has under-invested in agriculture and rural development for far too long.  It is high time to put this right,” Båge said.

IFAD operates in the majority of the 37 countries identified by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) as most badly affected by today’s high food prices.  IFAD is working with the FAO, the World Food Programme (WFP) and other partners, as well as with the government of these countries, to ensure an effective and efficient response to the global food crisis.


Notes for Editors

  • The “triple scourge” of poverty, soaring food prices and climate change threatens the lives of the 720 million extremely poor people who live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.  These people live mainly in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.  Women and indigenous peoples are among the most vulnerable. 
  • According to the International Food Policy Research Institute, 85% of farms worldwide (or 451 million farms) measure less than two hectares, and the average farm size is getting smaller.  Many smallholder farmers and most landless labourers are net buyers of food. 
  • Agriculture is the proven engine for pulling women and men out of poverty.  The World Bank’s World Development Report 2007 noted that growth in agriculture is up to four times more effective in reducing poverty than growth in other economic sectors. Yet support to the sector remains low. The amount of ODA going to agriculture fell from US$8 billion in 1984 to around US$3 billion in 2006, by which time it made up less than 3 per cent of total ODA. 
  • IFAD is both an international financial institution and a specialized agency of the United Nations. It is also the only such organization dedicated exclusively to agriculture and rural poverty reduction in developing countries.  Its goal is to empower poor rural women and men to improve their food security and increase their incomes. Its loans and grants programme has been expanding at 10 per cent per year since 2003, and in 2007 reached US$600 million. IFAD will provide a total of US$2 billion over the period 2007-09.
  • IFAD’s focus is primarily on agriculture and helping very poor women and men, including those in remote and marginalized areas, to increase food production and earn a sustainable income, principally through: land and water management, improved agricultural technologies and production services, market access, rural financial services, off-farm employment, and local planning and programming processes.
  • IFAD’s member countries have started consultations on funds for the Eighth Replenishment period 2010-2012.  This week, at the first substantive Session of the Consultation on the Eighth Replenishment of IFAD’s Resources, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a founding member state, announced a contribution of US$50 million. This represents a five-fold increase in its contributions over the last Replenishment period, and will help to ensure that IFAD to can continue to expand its support for agriculture and rural development projects, especially in sub-Sahara Africa. 

 


IFAD was created 30 years ago to tackle rural poverty, a key consequence of the droughts and famines of the early 1970s. Since 1978, IFAD has invested more than US$10 billion in low-interest loans and grants that have helped over 300 million very poor rural women and men increase their incomes and provide for their families.

IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency. It is a global partnership of OECD, OPEC and other developing countries. Today, IFAD supports more than 200 programmes and projects in 84 developing countries.