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07 February 2020

Mr President,

Allow me to begin by conveying South Africa's appreciation for your stewardship of IFAD during your successful tenure in office. We would also like to wish you all the best for your future endeavours and hope that your successor will further build on the firm foundations that you laid during your successful tenure in office.

Allow me also to thank you for your excellent address to the conference. We are especially appreciative of your insightful remarks.

Mr President,

As this Governing Council convenes for this Session, the world is facing significant challenges, but also tremendous opportunities. It is therefore imperative that we all, urgently, address the challenges we are faced with and grasp the opportunities that may arise to ultimately ensure that we improve the quality of life for all citizens of the world, particularly those who are the most vulnerable.

South Africa is committed to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted in 2015 to ensure the increased well-being of all our citizens. South Africa, like many countries of the Global South, is increasingly seized with challenge of eradicating hunger and poverty, particularly in rural areas. In order to address these challenges, South Africa is focusing on prioritising investment in food production, the development of rural infrastructure to ensure more effective agricultural production and ensuring that farmers have access to markets. South Africa further believes that there needs to be an increased focus on capacitating smallholder farmers, particularly women smallholder farmers and the youth.

Mr President,

The world is facing an increasing challenge of feeding its growing population. One of the means to address this challenge is to encourage our citizens to pursue a future in agriculture. To realise this goal, however, the necessary finance would have to be made available to enable farmers to procure the required equipment and drought-resistant seeds and access proper irrigation methods to combat environmental degradation such as soil erosion.

Collectively, these approaches will, we believe, begin to address the worldwide phenomenon of people abandoning their livelihoods in the rural areas in favour of moving to the cities where people believe they will find greater opportunity. Sustained focus on the agricultural sector in rural communities will also support the development of sustainable employment opportunities in these rural areas, encourage greater social cohesion and the sustainable utilization of natural resources.

Accordingly, South Africa welcomes IFAD's commitment to invest in rural people and to contribute to the transformation of rural areas with a view to improving the lot of the most vulnerable who rely on agriculture for their daily survival.

South Africa recognizes that in order to succeed in its bold endeavours to address the challenges of hunger and poverty, we must not lose focus of the environment aspect. The Southern African Region has been subject to severe droughts in the last couple of years due to the El-Nino phenomenon. South Africa has thus been focusing on climate-smart agriculture which includes utilizing proven practical techniques and approaches that can help the critical agricultural sector to achieve food security, adaptation to the current climate situation and mitigation of its effects on our food production.

Mr President,

South Africa appreciates the key role that has been played, and continues to be played, by IFAD in ensuring that not only South Africa, but all developing countries in need of assistance, is able to translate its vision of rural development as a means to combat hunger and poverty into reality.

In conclusion, allow me to say that "the day rural people would cry only because of beautiful things is the day and moment when we would be satisfied that, indeed, the Government would have delivered on the promise of "A better lifer for All".