Enabling poor rural people
to overcome poverty



Rome, 23 February 2012 – A statement of intent to build a stronger partnership between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) means improved support for the world’s smallholder farmers.

The statement of intent was signed during IFAD’s Governing Council at its Rome headquarters today by Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD.

Given the strong strategic alignment between the two organizations, and their role as funders of agricultural research and development in the poorest regions of the world, the agreement will build upon their partnership and boost joint ongoing work in support of smallholder farmers in developing countries.

Farmers face two stark realities over the next four decades. They must produce 60 per cent more food to feed a growing, more urbanized population, and they must do so while facing increased risks related to environmental degradation, resource scarcity and climate change. With the next round of climate change talks scheduled for June at Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil, delegates to the IFAD meeting emphasized the critical importance of smallholder agriculture to climate solutions.

After the signing of the statement, Gates made a presentation to Governing Council delegates and discuss the importance of agriculture and how sustainable productivity improvements can reduce poverty in developing countries. He challenged both global players and national governments to adopt a new approach to supporting smallholder farmers.


Press release No.: IFAD/16/2012

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 about US$13.2 billion in grants and low-interest loans to developing countries through projects empowering about 400 million people to break out of poverty, thereby helping to create vibrant rural communities. 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 168 members from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), other developing countries and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).