‘Creating the right business environment’ is the key to eradicating poverty

Nwanze delivers his first address as IFAD President to the Governing Council

Rome, 17 February 2010 – In his first address to the Governing Council as President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) , Kanayo F. Nwanze said agriculture should be viewed as a business, whatever its size.

With a world population projected to be 9.1 billion in 2050, "who will feed the world if we do not support a radical paradigm shift that seeks to make agriculture and farming profitable and attractive businesses?" Nwanze asked delegates from 165 Member States at the 33rd session of the Governing Council of the UN's rural poverty agency.

Creating a vibrant rural economy and reducing poverty depends on establishing the right business environment. "Such a shift requires that we focus our energy increasingly on young farmers and entrepreneurs, and on women who work in agriculture, markets and services," Nwanze said.

More than 60 per cent of the people who live in rural areas in developing countries are between the ages of 15 and 25, half of them are young women and girls.

It is important to encourage young smallholders to develop the entrepreneurial spirit and skills they need to become business leaders in the future. "Our vision must aim at making farming profitable so that young men and women in rural areas do not turn away from it, and so women farmers in particular, make a decent and profitable living for themselves and their families," Nwanze added.

The importance of women, who grow more than half the food cultivated in the world, cannot be overstated. IFAD has long recognized that there will be no substantial progress in poverty reduction unless there is greater investment in women.

Nwanze challenged leaders of the developing world, particularly in Africa, to demonstrate stronger financial commitments and political engagement at the highest level, and he called for leaders of OPEC countries to intensify their engagement in efforts to build global food security.

Since taking office, Nwanze has overseen a significant growth in IFAD's programme of work of 19 per cent in 2009 over the previous year, increasing the resources invested in poor rural communities. With the 67 per cent increase in resources approved by IFAD Member States for its 8th Replenishment (2010-12), Nwanze, who has led IFAD's increased presence in the countries where it works, said the Fund will reach more people and strengthen collaboration with its additional country presence. He thanked the United Nations Development Programme for the framework agreement that facilitated the opening and administration of IFAD's country offices.

In addition, Nwanze stated that the presence of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) at the Governing Council opening session is an indication of the strong ties between the Rome-based agencies.

Nwanze praised the governments of Brazil, Haiti, and the United States of America in convening the meeting where FAO, IFAD and WFP launched a task force to deliver coordinated assistance to Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake that hit the country in January. He outlined IFAD's actions to support Haiti's rural areas, including focusing on food production and activities to generate income and employment. In addition, Nwanze drew attention to a side event planned during the Governing Council to explore modalities for managing Haiti's debt to IFAD.   

Press release No.: IFAD/10/2010

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 350 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).