In Finland and Norway, IFAD President to emphasize long term investments in agriculture as key to building resilience in the Horn of Africa

Investments must come from a genuine global partnership between developed and developing countries

Rome, 23 August 2011Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), will meet senior officials this week in Helsinki and Oslo to find solutions for the immediate needs in the Horn of Africa and to discuss the longer term needs to build resilience of smallholder farmers in the region and in developing countries worldwide.

“IFAD remains united with countries like Norway and Finland in our vision of a world without hunger and poverty,” Nwanze said prior to his departure for the two Nordic countries. “The catastrophic impact of the drought in the Horn of Africa underscores the importance of focusing, now, on smallholder farmers vulnerable to climate events. We must link the immediate support needed to that of longer-term needs to build the resilience of smallholder farmers.”

Both Norway and Finland were among the first countries to respond to the crisis in the Horn of Africa pledging a combined amount of about US$70 million in humanitarian aid.

Historically, Norway has supported agricultural development, with its overseas development assistance at US$74.02 million in 2009. In Norway, Nwanze will meet with State Secretary of Development Ingrid Fiskaa and senior officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as with Norwegian ambassadors to East African countries to get a clearer understanding among the stakeholders how best to support governments to create stronger policies for rural development and infrastructure. In addition, Nwanze will deliver a keynote address to incoming students at the invitation of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

“IFAD has been working for more than 30 years to enable rural communities to create the conditions where they can achieve household food security, and also to produce a surplus to take to market,” Nwanze said. “And we have seen that smallholders can flourish if they have the right rural infrastructure and social services to support them. And they can thrive using simple but effective environmental practices that restore the ecological environment and increase resilience.”

Also, women smallholder farmers – who in sub-Saharan Africa women provide 80 to 90 per cent of the labour required to produce basic food crops - should not be forgotten, Nwanze said.

He further added: “No nation, no society can progress by supporting only half of its population.” 

Studies indicate that when women earn money, they are more likely than men to spend it on food for the family. In Cote d’Ivoire, for example, a US$10 increase in women’s income was found to bring about the same level of improvement in child health and nutrition as a $110 increase in men’s income.

While in Finland, Nwanze will meet with Finland’s new Development Cooperation Minister Heidi Hautala and Agriculture and Forestry Minister Jari Koskinen. Their discussions will focus on further strengthening the partnership between IFAD and Finland, particularly on natural resource management, which aims to address the greater competition for access to land and water caused by climate change, rising food and commodity prices and urbanization.

Nwanze emphasized that his visit comes at a crucial time, when building partnerships is vital to solving a crisis like the one in the Horn of Africa.

“Each of us brings our individual strengths to bear in the common cause of ensuring food security and nutrition,” he said. “If donors, development agencies and governments do not attend to the medium and long term, the kind of tragedy we are seeing in the Horn of Africa will happen again.”

Press release No.: IFAD/56/2011

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$12.9 billion in grants and low-interest loans to developing countries, empowering more than 370 million people to break out of poverty. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized UN agency based in Rome – the United Nation’s food and agricultural hub. It is a unique partnership of 166 members from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), other developing countries and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).