Enabling poor rural people
to overcome poverty



From rural enterprises to climate-smart technologies: scaling up is the solution

Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and Bill Gates to attend IFAD annual meeting

Rome, 20 February 2012 – Development leaders, and heads of state and government will congregate in Rome for the 35th session of the Governing Council, the annual meeting of the highest decision-making body of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Mario Monti, Prime Minister of the Republic of Italy, Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, and Joseph Boakai, Vice President of the Republic of Liberia will be keynote speakers at the 22-23 February meeting attended by representatives of IFAD’s 167 Member States.

The major highlight of this year’s Governing Council meeting will be its interactive events, one of which will be led by Bill Gates, Founder and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who will share his perspective on the importance of agriculture and how sustainable productivity improvements can reduce poverty in developing countries. He will challenge both global players and national governments to adopt a new approach to supporting smallholder farmers.

The Governing Council of IFAD meets at a critical time when the Sahel region is facing severe food shortages with more than one million children at risk of starvation.

“The situation we face today in the Sahel is the result – at least in part – of decades of failure to build resilience to drought and natural calamity by investing in agriculture,” said Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD. “We must ensure that the work and the funding for long-term resilience increases, even after this particular emergency has passed and the spotlight has moved on to another part of the world.”

In December 2011, the Member States gave a boost to sustainable agriculture with US$1.5 billion in new contributions to ensure that the IFAD has sufficient resources to do its job for poor rural people worldwide. IFAD has been a shining example among global development partnerships, with members from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and developing countries playing an active role in the Fund’s governance.

Leaders speaking at the Governing Council will remind donors and governments about the importance of a strong agricultural sector to secure global food supplies in the face of climate change and a rapidly growing population. Participants in the meeting’s panel discussions will include academicians, scientists and policymakers such as Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, the Chief Executive Officer of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network and Akinwunmi Ayo Adesina, Minister of Agriculture of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

These and other panel members will explore how best to coordinate global and national action plans to strengthen and scale up sustainable approaches to smallholder agriculture so that millions of people today and tomorrow can benefit.

“When it comes to global food and nutrition security, increasing production is only part of the story,” Nwanze added. “The full story is poverty, which lies at the heart of food and nutrition insecurity.”

IFAD’s Change and Reform Agenda positions the agency to better meet the needs of rural communities more efficiently and on a larger scale. The size of IFAD’s portfolio has been on the increase. New programmes and projects started and successful interventions were scaled up. At the end of 2011, IFAD was financing 240 on-going programmes and projects with investments of US$4.6 billion in 94 countries and one territory.

IFAD is scaling up its efforts to better link climate-smart technologies and sustainable agriculture in more than 40 countries. For example, in order to help farmers build their resilience in the face of these climatic challenges, IFAD-supported programmes in Burkina Faso and the Niger have been promoting techniques that strengthen natural regeneration. These include soil and water conservation practices, and re-greening activities managed by farmers.

Also, IFAD-supported initiatives in China, Ethiopia, Peru and  elsewhere are showing results of poor smallholder farmers increasing their productivity and incomes. These farmers make maximum use of natural processes, thereby reducing the need for environmentally harmful external inputs.

Notes for editors

Examples of IFAD’s work in 2011:

  • In Ghana, the second phase of the IFAD-supported Rural Enterprises Project set up 66 business advisory centers. The project has trained 100,000 people in trade skills, business management and marketing − against the originally foreseen 70,000. About 25,000 rural small business and microenterprises have been linked to larger commercial operations.
  • An IFAD-supported initiative to enhance rural enterprises in Bosnia and Herzegovina has provided loans totalling $1.5 million to 39 small and medium-sized enterprises. The loans, averaging $36,800, support investments in production, processing and trading.
  • In Burundi, Rwanda and the Tanzania, ‘pass-on’ schemes are used, in which farmers receive a cow, sheep or goat that they then pass on offspring to their neighbours. In 2011, about 22,000 animals were distributed across the region.
  • In Tunisia, an IFAD-funded programme promotes income-earning opportunities in small-scale agriculture and related sectors, such as handicrafts and services. To date, it has created more than 1,200 permanent jobs with 17 per cent held by women and almost 1,400 occasional jobs, 40 per cent of which are held by women.
  • Strengthening infrastructure and building roads to improve access to markets are key components of 14 IFAD-supported programmes and projects in six Asian countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indonesia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Sri Lanka and Viet Nam. Over the past year, more than 700 kilometers of roads have been built, including more than 200 kilometers in Indonesia alone.
  • Through competitions, or concursos,for project funding among participants, an IFAD-funded project in Bolivia helped to plant over 8 million trees and to construct more than 800,000 hectares of terraces that reduce erosion and minimize the effects of desertification.

IFAD President Nwanze drew the attention of policy and decision makers to the concerns and the needs of smallholder farmers and of poor rural people throughout 2011 including:

  • In Cape Town, South Africa, IFAD’s flagship publication, the Rural Poverty Report 2011 was presented prior to the World Economic Forum. Nwanze highlighted the report’s findings on how the agricultural sector can boost economic growth and rural development across Africa to international leaders.
  • At the Diaspora Investment in Agriculture initiative launch in Washington D.C. with the United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, Nwanze addressed how best to encourage migrants to invest in business opportunities that enhance food security, generate economic opportunity and foster job growth in rural areas when they return home.
  • During the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, Nwanze spoke to scientists and researchers about how to link food security and climate change solutions for the world’s smallholder farmers.

Press release No.: IFAD/07/2012

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$13.7 billion in grants and low-interest loans to developing countries through projects empowering about 405 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 167 members from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), other developing countries and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).