Rome, 20 July 2011 – Pressing challenges, such as a changing climate and volatile food prices, require that policy makers have more open and constructive exchanges about their experiences to achieve progress toward the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), senior officials of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said ahead of a South-South cooperation meeting in China from 21 to 27 July.
“Most importantly, cooperation should set guidelines that allow for investments to directly feed into development assistance so that those living on less than US$1.25 day don’t get left behind,” said Thomas Elhaut, IFAD Director for Asia and the Pacific. “IFAD’s interest in South-South cooperation goes to the heart of strengthening our collaboration with the most important partners of all – namely poor rural people themselves.”
IFAD is facilitating a seven-day South-South event organized by the Chinese Ministry of Finance (MOF) and the International Poverty Reduction Center in Beijing, China. The President of IFAD, Kanayo F. Nwanze and Director General of MOF, Zheng Xiaosong are scheduled to speak at the opening session of the event on 21 July. It will focus on sharing policy experiences in agriculture as well as public service, marketing and eco-environment. The event will be attended by senior policy experts and agriculture ministers from 12 developing countries in Africa and Asia including Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierre Leone, Tanzania, Zambia, Bangladesh, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Pakistan and the Philippines.
China has set an impressive leadership record in South-South cooperation along with that of Brazil. Middle-income countries (MICs) are donors and recipients of aid, which give them a unique perspective on the development process. MICs are playing an increasingly important role in the international development architecture, as donors, trading partners and sources of expertise. A partnership has emerged between China and IFAD in promoting rural development globally through sharing and learning events with other developing countries. Previously, China's MOF and IFAD have organized two South-South events in September 2009 and November 2010 respectively.
“Creating policy space for government action and regional policy coordination are crucial to carving a path to progress toward the MDGs,” Elhaut said.
China’s progress in economic and rural advancement over the last 30 years has been tremendous. While the country still has 150 million people living below the poverty line, China offers concrete experience to other developing countries as a model for agricultural and rural development. Many of China’s agricultural technologies can be of value for smallholder farmers in Asia and Africa that face similar challenges, particularly water-saving and soil related technologies and aquaculture methods.
“There is a great need for investments to move food from countries rich in arable lands to those with growing numbers of consumers and little food production capacity,” Elhaut urged. “Above all, competitive rivalry for scarce resources must turn into cooperative ventures with larger pay-offs to both emerging economic powers and those lagging behind.”
For example, in Guinea-Bissau, Chinese agricultural experts helped build demonstration areas for rice breeding. Several of the rice strains produced yields three times or more than the original. Chinese experts assisted in the operation of a hybrid rice development and demonstration center in Madagascar, where 34 strains of Chinese hybrid rice were grown, with average per-hectare output of 8 tons, about two-to-three times the average output of local rice.
But Elhaut warns that while technology and experience exchange is beneficial and should continue, it must be taken to the next level by discussing how policies, institutional conditions and the right kinds of environments can further promote successful South-South cooperation.
“South-South cooperation must be based on the questions of why and how policymakers can come together and share their successes and failures with each other,” he said.
Notes to editors
During IFAD’s 33rd Governing Council in 2010, the Director General of the International Department of China’s Ministry of Finance Zheng Xiaosong said: “We should push forward South-South cooperation and knowledge cooperation, which will add new momentum to global poverty reduction. The developing countries have accumulated abundant experiences in rural poverty reduction through their long term anti-poverty endeavour. It has been proven by practice that due to similar development stage, level and philosophy, it is easier for them to share experiences among themselves. We believe that South-South cooperation and knowledge cooperation have become one of the key collaborations between the developing countries and the IFIs.”
Press release No.: IFAD/50/2011
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$12.9 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).