IFAD President in the Republic of Korea to discuss joint efforts to eliminate poverty and hunger in the world’s poorest rural areas

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IFAD President in the Republic of Korea to discuss joint efforts to eliminate poverty and hunger in the world’s poorest rural areas

Rome, 21 August 2013 –Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), will be in the Republic of Korea 26-28 August to confer with senior government officials including Dong-phil Lee, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, on extending the impact of combined efforts to increase knowledge sharing and information technologies in rural areas in developing countries across Asia.

"I highly praise the diligent efforts of IFAD and the progress of its work on food security in developing countries," the minister said prior to his meeting in Sejong City with Nwanze on 26 August.

The Republic of Korea is regarded internationally as a role model of development because of its transformation from an impoverished agricultural society – poorer in the 1950's than two-thirds of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa – to an industrialized economy in a short period of time. As Asia's fourth-largest economy and one of the few countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) group of donors to increase aid to Africa in 2012, the Republic of Korea is recognized for their Knowledge Sharing Program as a leading model among OECD countries.

"In order to create a world free of hunger and poverty we need to be bold and operate on the cutting edge of innovation," Nwanze said prior to his departure for the country. "The Republic of Korea, after the ravages of war, transformed itself from a recipient of assistance to a significant donor, which shows their extraordinary commitment to development that has been underpinned by invention and innovation."

Nwanze will also meet Yong-hwan Kim, Chairman of Korea Eximbank, and Young-mok Kim, President of the Korea International Cooperation Agency. The parties will discuss ways to further strengthen the country's collaboration with IFAD, which is founded on a shared commitment to empowering rural women and men in developing countries and enhancing partnerships with the private sector.

"The Republic of Korea and IFAD have immense potential to work together for rural people in the world's poorest countries by creating jobs, improving their incomes, and boosting their resilience to risks such as climate change or natural disasters," said Hoonae Kim, IFAD Director of Asia and Pacific Division. "In particular, we consider technology an important player in connecting remote rural women and men to information and knowledge that empowers them to improve their productivity, act collectively to manage risks, capitalize on sales opportunities, and protect themselves from disasters through early warning systems.''

For example, the Republic of Korea and IFAD-supported work in India will help indigenous pastoralist women gain access to market prices, weather updates, employment opportunities and share indigenous knowledge through the access, training and use of mobile telephones. The project is also being piloted in Bangladesh, Cambodia and Papua New Guinea with the aim to demonstrate the multiple benefits information and communication technology (ICT) tools can offer such as the delivery of agricultural, financial, health and education services, mitigating isolation and risks, and creating more income-generation opportunities.

Just 50 years ago, the Republic of Korea was a recipient of international aid due to food shortages. Stimulating the country's agricultural growth required careful support to smallholders to participate in commodity value chains. The country's achievements in the agriculture sector is regarded as having largely been leveraged by farmers' adoption of ICT tools and integration with the food industry — an experience that the project aims to capitalize on.

"There's no country that understands better than the Republic of Korea, that an investment in rural areas is an investment in national economic vitality, social equality and enhanced environmental stability for future generations," Nwanze said. "Their experience and knowledge will be crucial as we look towards a post-2015 world, one that will require sustainable long-term solutions to hunger and poverty."

Nwanze's visit to the country comes just before the United Nations General Assembly meeting, which will focus on a framework for development and poverty reduction beyond the 2015 target date for the Millennium Development Goals. As a host country of the G20 Seoul Summit in 2010 and the fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan in 2011, the Republic of Korea is well placed to link the two agendas and utilize its unique development experiences to contribute to the post-2015 framework.

Notes to editors:

  • Press conference – Immediately following a meeting between the Minister of Agriculture, Dong-phil Lee and IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze, there will be a press conference on Monday, 26 August at 11.00 hrs at the Ministry of Agriculture in Sejong City.
    For background, please contact: Hokeun Ahn – h.ahn@ifad.org - mobile: +39 3341279731.
  • About Kanayo F. Nwanze - Kanayo F. Nwanze began his term as IFAD's fifth President on 1 April 2009. A Nigerian national, Nwanze has a strong record as an advocate and leader of change and a keen understanding of the complexity of development issues. Nwanze served as IFAD's Vice-President for two years before taking the organization's helm. Prior to that, he was Director-General of the Africa Rice Center for a decade. Nwanze was instrumental in introducing and promoting New Rice for Africa (NERICA), a high-yield, drought- and pest-resistant rice variety developed specifically for the African landscape. He also transformed the Center from a West African association to an Africa-wide organization with an international reputation for excellence. In addition, Nwanze has held senior positions at a number of research centres affiliated with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) in Africa and Asia, and he was instrumental in the establishment of the Alliance of CGIAR Centers.

Press release n°: IFAD/40/2013

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$14.9 billion in grants and low-interest loans to developing countries through projects empowering over 410 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 country members from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), other developing countries and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).