Kanayo Nwanze to visit Sichuan earthquake area on first visit to China as IFAD President

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Kanayo Nwanze to visit Sichuan earthquake area on first visit to China as IFAD President

Rural poverty, food security and bilateral cooperation on top of discussion agenda with senior leaders in Beijing

Rome – Beijing, 7 October 2009 - Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), will arrive in Beijing, China on 9 October on his first official visit to the country since taking office.

During his stay, Nwanze will visit the IFAD-supported Sichuan Post-Earthquake Agriculture Rehabilitation Project to see first-hand the impact of the IFAD's work in the earthquake devastated areas. This project aims to provide vulnerable households with access to environmentally-friendly rural energy, specifically biogas; rehabilitate and develop crop and livestock production and support related income-generating activities.

"Close collaboration between IFAD and China is fundamental to meet the challenges posed by climate change, as it could jeopardize our ability to fight poverty" said Thomas Rath, IFAD Country Programme Manager for China.

One example of this collaboration to meet the challenge of climate change is an IFAD-supported project in China's Guangxi province has provided about 30,000 poor households in more than 3,100 villages with nearly 23,000 ‘biodigester' tanks for biogas production.

As result, 56,600 tons of firewood can be saved in the project area every year, which is equivalent to the recovery of 7,470 hectares of forest.

"We used to cook with wood," said Liu Chun Xian, a farmer involved in the project. "The smoke made my eyes tear and burn and I always coughed. The children too were often sick and had to go to the clinic, which was expensive.

Now that we are cooking with gas, things are much better" added Liu.

While in Beijing, from 12 to 13 October, Nwanze is expected to meet the Vice Prime Minister of China, H.E. Hui Liangyu, the Minister of Finance, H.E.

Xie Xuren, and senior officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Commerce and the State Leading Group Office on Poverty Alleviation to discuss the ongoing rural development projects financed by IFAD in China.

Their discussions will focus on the impact of the 2008 food price spikes and the economic crisis on smallholder farmers, already grappling with climate change and on strategies for long-term investment in smallholder agriculture to reduce rural poverty. They will also look at ways to further strengthen the partnership between IFAD and China.

Nwanze will also meet the UN Resident Coordinator and the UN Country Team in Beijing.

Notes to editors

  • In May 2008 a strong earthquake caused large-scale destruction in much of Sichuan Province. With the loss of their physical assets, the population became vulnerable to poverty overnight. Poor rural people, who generally had more fragile homes and fewer assets to begin with, suffered the most. As an integrated part of the government-led National Reconstruction Programme, IFAD is financing a recovery project to provide support to rural people.
  • In 1981 IFAD became one of the first international donors to finance operations in China. Since then it has provided loans for 23 rural development programmes and projects for more than US$590 million. Most of these are located in China's remote and mountainous regions, where there are large numbers of poor indigenous peoples.
  • More than 30 million people in 21 provinces have benefited from IFAD-financed programmes and projects.

Press release No.: IFAD/46/09

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 over US$11 billion in grants and low-interest loans to developing countries, empowering some 340 million people to break out of poverty. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized UN agency based in Rome – the UN's food and agricultural hub. It is a unique partnership of 165 members from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), other developing countries and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).