IFAD President calls for sustained investment in agriculture on World Food Day

Smallholder farmers can provide food for the world

Rome, 15 October 2010 – Kanayo F. Nwanze, the President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), speaking on the occasion of the World Food Day ceremony held at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) this morning, called on global leaders to focus on increasing investments in agriculture and enhancing farm productivity. Talking to media on the sidelines of the meeting, Nwanze said, "Smallholder farmers can feed the world, but they cannot do it alone, greater long term investment in agriculture is needed, creating conditions to bring rural people out of subsistence and into the marketplace".

16 October is observed annually throughout the world as World Food Day. The theme of this year's observance, United against hunger, recognizes the successful collaborative efforts of international organizations, particularly the Rome-based United Nations agencies, in partnership with state and civil society organizations and the private sector, to fight hunger and poverty at national, regional and international levels.

In the face of food and energy price volatility, along with slow recovery from the financial crisis and global economic downturn, the future of food security is at best unpredictable. The compounded effect of the food price crisis of 2007-2008 and the global financial crisis has forced more poor people into poverty; and climate change has exacerbated the situation. The number of hungry people in the world remains unacceptably high, despite expected recent gains that have pushed the figure below 1 billion.

The IFAD President said: "Agriculture, food and nutrition are vitally important issues and need to be a key part of our efforts to fight poverty. Agriculture is the key to food security and a fundamental engine of economic growth and wealth generation. Governments need to scale up investment in agriculture so as to accelerate economic transformation".

It is estimated that half of the world's poor are smallholder agriculturalists. Over 2 billion rural women and men in Africa, Asia and Latin America depend on smallholder farms. They have an important role to play in bringing sustainable solutions to the challenges of today and tomorrow, such as how to achieve food security for all and cope with climate change.

"It cannot be done without the firm commitment of the many, many partners from NGOs, civil society, governments, the private sector, and smallholder farmers and their associations. Supporting the smallholder to launch a farming business, that is poverty eradication," Nwanze concluded.

Press release No.: IFAD/65/2010

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$12 billion in grants and low-interest loans to developing countries, empowering more than 360 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).