Enabling poor rural people
to overcome poverty



Press release No.: IFAD/08/09

Kanayo Nwanze, IFAD's President electRome, 18 February 2009 – The Governing Council of IFAD chose Kanayo F. Nwanze as its next president during its annual meeting in Rome today. Nwanze, a Nigerian national, is currently Vice-President of IFAD, a United Nations agency and an international financial institution, whose mandate is to help rural poor people pull themselves out of poverty.

Delegates from 165 Member States appointed Nwanze by acclamation, following an election involving Nwanze and four other candidates.

Nwanze brings to the job nearly thirty years of experience in agriculture, rural development and research. His work in developing countries, in Africa, Asia and the Americas, is complemented by two years as Vice President at IFAD’s headquarters in Rome.

An agricultural specialist, Nwanze has a keen understanding of the complexity of development issues. 

Speaking to the Council after he was appointed, Nwanze thanked IFAD Member States for their support, underlining the unique partnership of OPEC countries, other developing countries and OECD countries that represents IFAD’s fundamental strength.

“Achieving concrete results and impact on the ground with our projects and programmes will continue to be at the core of IFAD,” Nwanze said. “With enhanced country presence and direct supervision we will continue to reinforce our quality agenda.”

“Our challenge will be to make agriculture the central focus of governments, reduce poverty and hunger and achieve the Millennium Development Goals,” he added.

Nwanze becomes the fifth President since IFAD’s founding in 1977.

In his career, Nwanze has proven an accomplished advocate and manager of change. During his ten years as Director-General of the Africa Rice Centre (WARDA), he transformed the centre from a regionally focused institution into an internationally recognized research institution.

He has been a driving force in the implementation of key reforms begun by the outgoing IFAD head, Lennart Båge.

Nwanze has emphasized that he wants to “consolidate and deepen the change and reform process over the next years of his presidency”. 

Nwanze takes up his post on April 1.


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$10.6 billion in low-interest loans and grants that have helped over approximately 350 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 close to 250 programmes and projects in 87 developing countries and one territory.