IFAD renews commitment to rural prosperity in China with strategic $152 million programme

Beijing, 20 October 2016 – The Associate Vice-President and Head of Programmes of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Perin Saint Ange, is in China this week to meet with government officials, financial institutions and development partners to begin implementation of a strategic US$152 million programme of work in China that will contribute to prosperity in rural areas.

The overall aim of IFAD’s China Country Strategic Opportunities Programme (COSOP) 2016-2020 is to transform rural areas by increasing incomes and improving living standards so that young people have a viable alternative to urban migration. The $152 million allocation will cover the first three years of the five-year programme.

Though rural areas in China have transformed rather quickly over the last 35 years and rural poverty has been greatly reduced, there are still 56 million people living in poverty.

“Unfortunately, the income gap in China has widened. Average incomes in urban areas are now more than three times higher than those in rural areas. Poverty in China continues to be a rural phenomenon,” said Saint Ange.

Young people are moving to the cities, leaving rural areas. In 2015, 45 per cent of the population resided in rural areas with a 3 per cent annual migration rate to urban areas.

Saint Ange visits China following the regional presentation of IFAD’s Rural Development Report 2016 in India earlier this week. China stands out in the report along with Viet Nam as countries in the region that are leading the battle to reduce rural poverty.

Poverty statistics point to China’s rapid progress. In 1981, 88 per cent of the population lived below the poverty line, by 2012 only 6.5 per cent of the total population still lived below the poverty line.

China was also the first developing country to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by half the number of its people living in extreme poverty and hunger, but it is still home to nearly 10 per cent of the poor living in developing countries.

“IFAD will continue to contribute to China’s rural development agenda by implementing our new programme of work, which includes sharing, and building on 40 years of rural development knowledge and experience. Development, that leaves no one behind,” said Saint Ange.

IFAD’s programme of work in China is now shifting its focus -- from increasing food production and food security to developing rural business opportunities and improving smallholder farmers’ access to markets, financial services, and climate-smart technology.

IFAD’s partnership with China will include developing South-South cooperation initiatives to share knowledge and exchange rural transformation technologies among developing countries. 

During his visit to China, Saint Ange will hold meetings with senior officials of the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture, financial institutions and development partners. He will also lead in a ribbon-cutting ceremony of the new IFAD country office in Beijing on 25 October.

Since 1981, over $2 billion have been invested in 29 IFAD-supported projects in the country, directly benefitting 4,393,300 rural households.

Note to journalists:

Perin Saint Ange will be in China from 20 – 26 October and is available for interviews.

Press release No.: IFAD/64/2016

IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided about US$18 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached some 462 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome – the UN’s food and agriculture hub.