IFAD President to meet Dutch Minister Knapen on investment in agriculture in developing countries

Small farmers and climate change mitigation high on agenda

Rome, 4 November 2011 – Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), will meet the Minister for European Affairs and International Cooperation, Ben Knapen, next week in the Netherlands to discuss how best to support smallholder farmers in the face of increased risks such as climate change.

“The world’s smallholder farmers already face a complex set of problems,” Nwanze said prior to his departure. “Food price volatility and climate change mean that farmers have to deal with a new range of uncertainties. IFAD’s work centers on supporting farmers to alleviate the unpredictability so that they can feed themselves and their communities.”

For over three decades, IFAD has worked to help poor rural people manage their natural resources more sustainably, increase their agricultural productivity and reduce their vulnerability to climatic shocks. Assisting smallholder farmers to adapt to variability has always been part of IFAD’s core business, but in recent years, as these shocks have increased, its climate change programming has become more specific to ensure they have the tools they need. This includes resilience-building packages such as drought resistant seeds, on-farm storage and rainwater catchment systems.

Recently, the Netherlands contributed US$2.5 million to safeguard unique crop seeds and planting materials in gene banks around the world, many of which are located in developing countries.

“From our experience we know that smallholders can flourish if they have simple technologies and the right varieties of seeds. In many cases, these technologies are developed locally in order to deal with the local conditions,” Nwanze said.

While in the Netherlands, Nwanze will also meet with Joke Brandt, director-general for International Cooperation in the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get a clearer understanding among the stakeholders how best to support developing country governments to create stronger policies for rural development and infrastructure.

The Netherlands has pledged a total of $322.3 million to the Fund and it has been the second largest co-financier of IFAD-initiated projects since 1978.

Press release No.: IFAD/78/2011

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 about US$13.2 billion in grants and low-interest loans to developing countries through projects empowering about 400 million people to break out of poverty, thereby helping to create vibrant rural communities. 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 167 members from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), other developing countries and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).