The contemporary agricultural sector faces many new challenges, from new crop diseases to the impacts of climate change. Yet these challenges can often be combatted with new and improved technologies developed through scientific research.
In addition to addressing large-scale trends, this research can often solve problems encountered by small-scale agricultural producers – with tangible benefits. For instance, low production of crops, livestock and fish can be overcome by turning to newly developed varieties and breeds. Or better nutrition and food sufficiency can be attained by diversifying diets.
Yet in many developing countries, the connection between this research and agricultural development is weak. There is little investment in agriculture-focused research as the immediate impacts are easy to overlook.
IFAD hopes to change that. With additional funding from the European Union, IFAD provides grants to CGIAR research centres and national and regional institutions in the field of Agricultural Research for Development – AR4D.
The goal of AR4D is to improve the resilience, livelihoods and food security of small-scale farmers in rural communities, particularly youth and women, through scientific research.
IFAD’s AR4D programme supports:
Creating pro-poor technologies
Facilitating knowledge exchange and documenting research
Establishing partnerships between research-centric and non-research-centric development institutions
Improving country-level links between research institutions and food security programmes
Generating evidence that demonstrates the effectiveness of new approaches for meeting future food and nutrition security needs and fostering resilience, with the goal of guiding policy decisions.
Every year after the rice harvest in South Asia, a vast area of over 15 million hectares lies idle (fallow) until the next rice planting season several months later. Scientists in countries like Bangladesh, India and Nepal think the fallow land could, and should, be used for additional crops that increase farmer incomes and food security.
The Putting Research into Use for Nutrition, Sustainable Agriculture and Resilience (PRUNSAR) programme is currently one of the most significant ongoing AR4D programmes. It has a budget of almost US$40 million, mainly from the European Union, of which US$8 million is a contribution from IFAD.
Climate change is the most compelling challenge facing the world today. It affects rural smallholders across the developing world, with effects that pose a grave threat to their own, and to the world’s food security.