IFAD President commits to pull up to 90 million people out of poverty

Nwanze says long-term rural development is most effective for poverty reduction

Rome, 22 February 2012 – In his address to the 35th Governing Council, Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), today committed to pull up to 90 million people out of poverty.

“The time has come for smallholders to play their rightful role in contributing to economic growth and food security,” Nwanze told a gathering of world leaders, international policymakers, farmer representatives and government ministers. “When these farmers are recognized as small entrepreneurs, when they have access to better resources and incentives, and when they have access to markets and an enabling environment, they can transform their communities, their own lives, and indeed the world.”

With a world population projected to be more than 9 billion in 2050, Nwanze called for “perseverance, patience and determination” to reduce rural poverty and create climate-smart ways for smallholders to build their resilience.”

Specifically emphasizing IFAD’s ground-breaking Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme, Nwanze added that the Fund has a critical role to play helping smallholders adapt to a changing climate while also reducing emissions and safeguarding the natural resource base.

Nwanze highlighted the importance of women, who shoulder a heavy workload in rural areas. IFAD has long recognized that there will be no substantial progress in poverty reduction unless there is greater investment in women, one half of humanity.

And with more than half of the rural population in developing countries between the ages of 15 and 25, Nwanze challenged leaders of the developing world, to work in partnership with IFAD to “harness youth’s tremendous energy and provide opportunities for them, particularly in rural areas.”

“We will need the young people of today to be the farmers of tomorrow,” he added.

Since taking office in 2009, Nwanze has overseen a change and reform agenda which has improved IFAD’s efficiency with projects being implemented more quickly, with less delay between approval and first disbursement.

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. In addition, Nwanze pledged to expand partnerships with the private sector to make, “smallholder farmers more visible business partners in their efforts to feed the world.”

He applauded Member States for their commitment to IFAD’s Ninth replenishment of resources of US$1.5 billion in new contributions to finance agriculture and rural development projects across the developing world. This represents a 25 per cent increase over IFAD’s Eighth Replenishment.

He thanked the staff of IFAD for their commitment and dedication to the work of the Fund. In addition, Nwanze welcomed the new heads of agencies of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Food Programme.

Nwanze promised to make, “IFAD an ever-stronger ally for poor rural people. At every forum, at every conference, every meeting and every summit, we will continue to be the voice of the smallholder farmer, fisherperson, pastoralist, the landless farm worker and of women and youth.”

Press release No.: IFAD/13/2012

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$13.7 billion in grants and low-interest loans to developing countries through projects empowering about 405 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).