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Statement by Netherland on the occasion of the 34th session of the IFAD Governing Council

Mr/Mrs Chairman,
Mr President,
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with great pleasure that I address the 34th Session of the IFAD Governing Council on behalf of the Governments of the Kingdom of Belgium, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. As you may know the Benelux has a longstanding tradition of working together on substantive issues within both the EU and the wider international context.

Today the Governing Council is gathered in the beautiful city of Rome.  A city with a great historical value. A city that has fought many battles. Great battles, in defending the territories of the Roman Empire. And small battles, like the gladiatorial contests at the Coliseum during its glory days, in the heart of Rome.

At this moment Rome is still fighting a battle. In fact, it is fighting one of the heaviest battles of this time. The fight against poverty is urgent. As FAO pointed out in December last year, the world is looking at a new surge in food prices while the developed and developing world is still struggling with the consequences of the financial and economic crises. 2008 showed the devastating results of the rise in food prices and became the year of the worldwide food crisis. Since then, food and agriculture have become eminent ammunition as a means to win this battle and to overcome poverty everywhere. 

The Rome based agencies are at the core of this battle. FAO, WFP and IFAD are at the forefront of our worldwide efforts in the fight against poverty. 2010 was an exciting and heavy year for IFAD. With the start of the USD 3 billion Eighth Replenishment period and the establishment of the Spanish Food Security Co financing Facility Trust Fund, the Fund is looking at an enormous increase in resources.

We should commend IFAD with the fact that while it is demonstrating its ability to maintain the size of its portfolio and to scale up successful projects, project performance is increasing on many levels. We also appreciate that new and innovative ways of funding are explored.

Today we should also look ahead. (The day after) Monday the IFAD membership will enter into the first round of consultations for the Ninth Replenishment of IFAD's resources. Our governments are very pleased that for the first time in the history of the Fund the consultations will be headed by an external chair. Therefore very much welcome Mr. Johannes Linn in fulfilling this task and wish him lots of success. While food security is one of the cornerstones of our governments' foreign policy, we are well aware of the significant role of smallholder farmers in the promotion thereof. The empowerment of smallholder farmers, in particular the younger generation, women and men, to increased market orientation is key as a means to boost food security. This reaffirms the relevance of IFAD's mandate.

Therefore, our governments attach great value to IFAD's role as a niche player in smallholder agricultural and rural development and encourage IFAD to strengthen and deepen this role during the Ninth Replenishment period. Not only as a financier of agricultural development projects but also as a knowledge broker. To this end, IFAD should continue its efforts to become a more cost-efficient and effective organisation to maintain its focused position at the forefront of the worldwide battle against poverty. As we heard this morning from H.R.H. Princess Haya if we want we can win this battle.

Thank you for your kind attention.

19 February 2011