‘Agriculture makes good business sense’: IFAD President urges Davos leaders to invest in developing countries

Nwanze stresses immediate needs of Haiti's rural areas

Rome, 26 January 2010As business, government and private sector leaders gather in the Swiss town of Davos this week for the World Economic Forum, global food security and poverty will be among the key challenges they will need to tackle. The power and potential of 500 million smallholder farms will be brought to discussion tables by Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The United Nations rural poverty agency has been invited to the Davos Forum for the first time. Nwanze is slated to speak at key Forum sessions.

The theme of the Forum's Annual Meeting this year is "Improve the State of the World: Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild".

Before departing for Davos, Nwanze asked, "When have poor smallholder farmers from Africa, Asia and Latin America ever had an opportunity to be heard by the Chief Executive Officers of the world's large agro-businesses?"  He added that there is growing recognition that smallholder farmers and rural communities are part of the solution to the food insecurity and poverty challenges. IFAD's experience shows that a healthy agricultural sector acts as a multiplier in local economies, leading eventually to higher income and access to more vibrant markets where smallholder farmers can buy and sell their produce.

"In Davos, I intend to show business leaders how linking smallholder farmers to the private sector is key to building the economy of developing countries. The private sector is increasingly crucial to drive economic growth in the developing world," emphasized Nwanze, "IFAD will continue to be the voice of smallholder farmers because they are fundamental to transforming the agricultural system and bringing about economic growth".

"Agriculture, irrespective of the size of the farm, generates business. And every entrepreneur, whether it is a smallholder farmer or a large commercial farmer, needs or wants to make money. We have the responsibility to transform smallholder agriculture into smallholder businesses," Nwanze said.

"The development of the agricultural sector requires long-term investment. This has to be throughout the entire agricultural value chain, from producers to consumers - from farm to fork. This means providing the necessary infrastructure like roads, inputs, market linkages and information, and capacity building," concluded Nwanze.

Following the recent earthquake, Haiti‘s immediate and long-term needs will be high on the agenda at Davos. People in the cities, which were hit hardest by the disaster, are scavenging for food and reverse migration from the urban to the rural areas has already started, increasing pressure on the rural economy and placing more strain on areas which are grappling with meager resources. IFAD is already working on rapidly developing a programme in close collaboration with FAO aimed at rebuilding and restoring production and economic activities in the rural areas.

In Davos, Nwanze will participate in a number of events and sessions focused on food security, land use, weather index insurance, rural and economic development.

Press release No.: IFAD/02/2010

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).