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Message of the UN Secretary-General to the 32nd session of IFAD's Governing Council

I am delighted to send my best wishes to the thirty-second session of the Governing Council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

You meet at a time when the global financial crisis is compounding the impact of the food crisis, making the challenges facing the world's most vulnerable people all the more difficult.

We know that world poverty cannot be reduced without improvements in agriculture, especially smallholder agriculture.  Most poor people are farmers.  Most farm work is done by women.  Their efforts contribute greatly to the domestic product of poor countries.  Poor farmers can raise their productivity, and double, or even triple, their output.  The United Nations system must play its role in ensuring they do so.  

The Comprehensive Framework for Action of the High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis stipulates two urgent and complementary priorities.  We must address the immediate needs of the world's hungry.  We must also contribute to longer-term global food and nutrition security by building resilience to challenges and crises, including climate change, that endanger the hard-fought development gains we have achieved.

IFAD is a crucial ally of the world's smallholder farmers.  As an innovative partnership between OPEC, the OECD and developing countries, it is an example of the global collaboration that is necessary to achieve our collective goals.  I note in particular that during these difficult times, IFAD's membership has responded to the effective reforms the Fund has undertaken and recognized the Fund's crucial role by agreeing to the largest replenishment of resources in IFAD's history.

I would like to thank President Lennart Båge for his leadership of IFAD and for his wider contribution to the United Nations system.  Notable in this regard were his chairmanship of the Chief Executives Board High-Level Committee on Programmes and his strong contribution to my task force on the food crisis.  It has been a pleasure to work with him and I look forward to working closely with his successor.  I also look forward to  the steps IFAD's Governing Council will take at this session to give further impetus to our efforts to eradicate hunger and poverty.  Please accept my best wishes for a productive session.

Rome, 18 February 2009