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An international response to global food shortages

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized agency of the United Nations, was one of the major outcomes of the 1974 World Food Conference.

The conference was organized by the United Nations in response to the food crises of the early 1970s, when global food shortages were causing widespread famine and malnutrition, primarily in the Sahelian countries of Africa.

World leaders realized that food insecurity and famine were not so much failures in food production but structural problems relating to poverty. This was compounded by the fact that the majority of the developing world's poor people lived in rural areas.

In response to these complex challenges, it was decided that an “an International Fund for Development should be established immediately to finance agricultural development projects, primarily for food production in the developing countries … The Fund shall provide financing primarily for projects and programmes specifically designed to introduce, expand or improve food production systems and to strengthen related policies and institutions …”

Three years after the Rome conference, IFAD was set up as an international financial institution in 1977.

Since then, IFAD-supported projects have reached millions of people.