Rome and Washington, May 16: The United States Department of State and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will unveil this week in Washington, DC a new joint initiative to assist the flow of investment from international migrants to reduce rural poverty and boost food security in their home countries.
The Diaspora Investment in Agriculture (DIA) initiative will be presented by IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze on Tuesday, May 17 at the Secretary’s Global Diaspora Forum, hosted at the State Department by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The DIA will seek to migrant entrepreneurs and diaspora organizations to stimulate the agricultural sector in developing countries, particularly post-conflict nations and fragile states. According to IFAD, investments in agriculture and efforts to better link farmers with emerging markets can have an enormous positive impact on economic growth and food security.
Through the DIA initiative, IFAD and the State Department, in collaboration with partner donors and international institutions, will work with diaspora investors worldwide and local organizations and communities in their home countries. The program seeks to assist and encourage investments by migrants in business opportunities that enhance food security, generate economic opportunity and foster job growth in rural areas.
With the support of the State Department and other international partners, IFAD will work to involve migrant entrepreneurs, diaspora organizations and key strategic entities to implement projects that stimulate the development of the agricultural sector. In particular, the initiative will seek to identify and co-finance viable ideas and models linking food security, diaspora investment and agricultural value chains.
With more than 215 million people – or three per cent of the world’s population – now living outside their home countries, diaspora communities already play a vital economic role in many nations. Currently they remit more than US$325 billion a year to developing countries and, in many cases, have become among the largest sources of cash and investment for home countries, surpassing the sum total of official development assistance and foreign direct investment. In Haiti, for example, remittances contribute upwards of a third of gross domestic product. In the United States, which hosts the largest number of international migrants of any country, official remittances by diaspora communities amount to nearly $50 billion annually.
In the short-term, these remittances pay for essentials, such as food, clothing, and shelter, and often constitute more than 50 per cent of household income. In times of crisis, migrants are often first-responders who provide for the increased financial needs of the their families, as evidenced by the doubling of remittances immediately after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the 2010 flooding in Pakistan and the 2009 typhoon in the Philippines.
Through migrant investment, the diaspora can also play a vital long-term role, as both project experience and research show that diaspora communities are not only well informed about opportunities in their countries of origin, but they are also much more willing than others to invest in fragile markets.
The initiative will target a number of countries, including Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Haiti, Iraq, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Tunisia.
The goal of the Forum, which will run through May 19, is to recognize and celebrate the contribution of diaspora communities to the U.S. relationship with their countries of origin and encourage intra-diaspora collaboration and learning.
Press release No.IFAD/35/2011
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) works with poor rural people to enable them to grow and sell more food, increase their incomes and determine the direction of their own lives. Since 1978, IFAD has invested over US$12.5 billion in grants and low-interest loans to developing countries, empowering more than 370 million people to break out of poverty. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized UN agency based in Rome – the United Nation’s food and agricultural hub. It is a unique partnership of 166 members from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), other developing countries and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).