Investing in rural development will stabilize African communities IFAD President tells Italy-Africa Ministerial Conference

Rome, 18 May 2016 – Recognizing that rural development plays a fundamental role in stabilizing communities and further reduces the impacts of climate change and migration, Kanayo F. Nwanze, the President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), discussed the importance of investing in smallholder agriculture, when he attended today the Italy-Africa Ministerial Conference in Rome.  

“IFAD and Italy share a conviction that a vibrant agricultural sector depends on small-scale farming and that smallholder farmers have a crucial role to play in food security, nutrition, and poverty reduction,” said Nwanze.  “Italy has a long history of investing in sub-Saharan Africa’s development, and this is also where about half of IFAD’s financing is directed.”

Organized by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the conference will bring together over 40 African ministers of foreign affairs and international cooperation, Italian government officials including the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, plus other representatives from the United Nations and the African Union. The focus of the day-long event is to discuss opportunities for sustainable growth in Africa that address issues related to migration and climate change. 

Nwanze delivered a keynote speech during a session this morning entitled: “Economic Sustainability: Italy and Africa.” The IFAD President discussed the crucial role investment in agriculture can play in developing African economies and in creating opportunities for the estimated 224 million African young people who will be seeking employment over the next decade.

“Too many die on the road to a better life, their bodies found across the Saharan desert or washed up on Mediterranean beaches,” said Nwanze. “This adds to the urgency of our work.”

Italy is one of the strong supporters of IFAD. Among IFAD's member states, Italy is the fifth largest financial contributor to the organization’s resources, with a cumulative pledge of US$509 million. In addition to its regular contributions to IFAD, Italy has channelled about $60 million in supplementary funds to co-finance specific initiatives and projects in selected thematic and geographic areas. Half of the supplementary funds received from Italy since 1994 focused on promoting food security in Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in Mauritania, Liberia, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Niger, Guinea Bissau, and more recently Guinea, by supporting smallholder farming systems, rural financial services, value chains development and access to markets.

Press release No.: IFAD/29/2016
IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided US$17.7 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached about 459 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome – the UN’s food and agriculture hub.