Rome, 13 February 2013 – The Vice Premier of the People's Republic of China, Hui Liangyu, and Minister for Economy and Finance of the Italian Republic, Vittorio Grilli, addressed the opening session this morning of the 36th session of the Governing Council, the annual meeting of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The Governing Council is IFAD’s highest decision-making body.
In his remarks, Vice Premier Liangyu reaffirmed China’s commitment to keep agriculture and poverty reduction at the top of the country’s economic and social agenda. He urged the international community to focus on helping developing countries achieve food security and eliminate rural poverty through North-South cooperation. He added that increased efforts are needed to expand South-South cooperation to promote exchanges between developing countries.
“All countries must work together, reject trade protectionism, improve market access, and build a fair and reasonable international order for agricultural trade, so as to create a sound external environment for developing countries to develop,” Vice Premier Liangyu said.
Addressing collaboration, , Minister Grilli said that reaching food security is not only about investing financial resources in agriculture but is also “a matter of sharing know-how, technologies, innovation, managerial experience, and relationships.”
“IFAD can make the difference by helping smallholders to become active participants in their own development, and that of their nations: from aid-dependent to business-minded farmers,” Grilli added.
A message from His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI was delivered on his behalf by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See. The message expressed hope for the future and commended IFAD’s work in empowering small farmers, noting that “this approach recognizes the agriculture sector as a primary component of economic growth and social progress, and it restores agriculture and those who work on the land to their rightful place.”
The opening day also included a synthesis of deliberations from the first global Indigenous Peoples’ Forum at IFAD, in which indigenous peoples’ organizations called for governments to: “Recognize indigenous peoples’ rights to land, territories and resources, including rangelands and corridors; and the contributions of traditional knowledge systems and technologies and traditional livelihoods for ecosystem resilience and sustainable development.” In addition, indigenous peoples’ organizations committed to “Work jointly with IFAD and governments in the design and elaboration of economically viable, culturally appropriate and ecologically sound sustainable development models for our peoples.”
Delegates from IFAD Member States appointed by acclamation Kanayo F. Nwanze to serve a second term of four years as the President of the Fund. Nwanze, a Nigerian national, served as IFAD Vice-President before being appointed in 2009 to his first term as President. In his acceptance speech, Nwanze said IFAD will create the conditions to enable 80 million people to overcome poverty.
During the morning session of the Governing Council, a panel discussion entitled Secrets of mutually beneficial and successful partnerships focussed on public-private partnerships and the role of farmers’ organizations. “Cooperatives are the only means to eradicate poverty and for supplying good, quality products to consumers,” said Tadesse Meskela, founder and General Manager of the Oromia Farmers Cooperative Union of Ethiopia. “Bringing farmers together is the only way. Train them to organize and produce high quality products. Then bring the profits back to the farmers.” Meskela was in the 2006 documentary Black Gold, which takes an in-depth look at the world of coffee and global trade.
The first day of the Governing Council concluded with a high-level panel moderated by David Nabarro, Special Representative on Food Security and Nutrition for the United Nations. The discussants explored opportunities for small farmers to develop mutually beneficial partnerships with private sector entities without compromising the interests of rural communities.
Panellist Ingmar Stresse, Director of Global Programmes and Partnerships at Mars Incorporated, explained that “smallholder farmers are the backbone” of production of many agricultural materials needed for products. “Five million small farmers are producing cocoa for Mars,” he said, adding that “Our future is connected with the future of cocoa farmers in the world. We need a revolution in terms of entrepreneurship” for small farmers.
Press release No.: IFAD/09/2013
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$14.8 billion in grants and low-interestloans to developing countries through projects empowering over 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 Nations’ food and agriculture hub. It is a unique partnership of 172 members from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), other developing countries and the Organisation for Economic Co‑operation and Development (OECD).