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Statement by Mr Tesfai Tecle Assistant Director-General Technical Cooperation Department FAO to the 30th Session of IFAD's Governing Council

Mr President,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honour for me to be with you this morning and I wish to convey the FAO Director-General's greetings to the IFAD Governing Council.

I am pleased to note that the theme selected by IFAD for its deliberations during this Council, "Rural Employment and Livelihoods", complements very well the theme chosen by FAO for its 2006 World Food Day "Investing in Agriculture for Food Security – the whole world will profit". The seed planted by a farmer can lead to flourishing agribusinesses that pay taxes, and help build and maintain rural schools and roads. Agricultural development is about livelihoods and is the first step in long-term sustainable economic growth. Everyone gains from investment in agriculture.

The imperative of increasing investment in agriculture is especially great in Africa where governments have declared their commitment to investing their own resources through the "Maputo Declaration" of 2003. Increasing the volume of public investment in agriculture must be matched by making such assistance more effective and leveraging private sector investment. Governments must create stable socio-political conditions, establish legal frameworks for access to land and water, enforce grades and standards, foster a better climate for private investment, and provide essential rural infrastructure. In this environment, commercial farmers, traders, input suppliers, agroprocessors and transnational agribusinesses can contribute to a global system of investment that can assist rural people to reap profits from agricultural production, marketing and trade. But, let us not forget that small farmers themselves are the largest investors in agriculture.

It gives me great pleasure to see that collaboration between the three Rome-based food agencies is broad, effective and is increasing. The recommendation of the High Level Panel on UN System Wide Coherence states that: "to build long-term food security and break the cycle of recurring famines, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, WFP, IFAD and FAO should review their respective approaches and enhance inter-agency coordination". A strong partnership between WFP, IFAD and FAO will help to strengthen Rome as a food and agriculture hub, which should also include Bioversity International. This partnership is demanded by governments and makes good business sense. By working together, we can make more effective and efficient use of our scarce resources.

Let me mention a few recent examples of our many joint activities. The heads of the three Rome-based agencies visited Northern Ghana together to demonstrate their determination to join efforts to reduce hunger and poverty. There, they shared the vision of building a food-secure country through a twin-track approach. This would provide in the short term, assistance to hungry households to meet their education, health and nutrition needs, and build medium- and long-term sustainable livelihoods through investment in agricultural and rural development. Also, the three agencies, together with Bioversity International, jointly met with the Agricultural Management Team of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in October 2006, and together are helping to implement the International Alliance Against Hunger. The three agencies will also be co-hosting, at the end of this month, the 34th Annual Session of the UN Standing Committee on Nutrition to be held in FAO on the theme "Working Together".


Cooperation between IFAD and the FAO Investment Centre recorded a marked increase in 2006, with FAO providing IFAD with a wide range of technical support services to promote investment in agriculture and rural development in member countries. There was a 17 percent increase in fielded activities led by the Centre, and nine projects were approved for funding by IFAD for investments totalling US$274 million. In 2006, the Governing Council authorized IFAD to supervise its lending operations, which provides an opportunity for greater cooperation with the FAO Investment Centre and technical divisions.

FAO's technical divisions are also collaborating with IFAD in a number of activities in the field. Recent examples include: Desert Locust and trypanosomiasis control, capacity building in rural finance, agrarian reform and livelihood support, water use efficiency and conservation, and new work together on development of policy coherence on child labour in agriculture. The two agencies are also working together on the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development and the recently launched TerrAfrica Platform. In view of the successful outcome of the locust campaign, FAO is also interested to develop collaboration with IFAD on avian influenza control and rehabilitation of earthquake-affected areas of Northern Pakistan.

Finally, over the last three years, FAO has been associated with the IFAD pilot programme to enhance its country presence. In Mozambique and the United Republic of Tanzania, FAO has hosted an IFAD Liaison Officer. The external evaluation for this pilot field presence programme is ongoing. FAO would like to see this field presence pilot model refined and expanded to more countries. There is considerable scope for enhancing our partnership, both in Rome and at country level that would respond to the demands for "delivering as one" under the One UN programme.


I could add much more, but I will finish with these few examples. Let me close by reiterating that the commitment of FAO, IFAD and WFP to link our comparative advantages into an effective partnership against hunger and poverty is genuine and strong - and we are continually in search of ways to make it even better.

I wish you a successful meeting.

Thank you.