International Fund for Agricultural Development
|Formation||15 December 1977|
|Type||United Nations specialised agency|
|United Nations Economic and Social Council|
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD; French: Fonds international de développement agricole (FIDA)) is an international financial institution and a specialised agency of the United Nations dedicated to eradicating poverty and hunger in rural areas of developing countries. It was established as an international financial institution in 1977 through United Nations General Assembly Resolution 32/107 (15 December 1977) as one of the major outcomes of the 1974 World Food Conference. Most of the extreme poor – about 80 percent – live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. IFAD-supported projects connect small-scale producers to markets and services so they can grow more and earn more.
The strategic policy of IFAD is detailed in the fifth Strategic Framework which presents the overarching goal, principles of engagement, strategic objectives, outcomes and pillars of results delivery that will guide IFAD’s operations over the 2016-2025 period. Its headquarters is in Rome, Italy, and is a member of the United Nations Development Group. The President of the IFAD is Gilbert F. Houngbo from Togo, who was elected for a four-year term in 2017.
IFAD's goal is to empower poor rural men and women in developing countries to achieve higher incomes and improved living.
IFAD seeks to ensure that poor rural people have better access to, and the skills and organisation they need to take advantage of:
- Natural resources, especially secure access to land and water, and improved natural resource management and conservation practices
- Improved agricultural technologies and effective production services
- A broad range of financial services
- Transparent and competitive markets for agricultural inputs and produce
- Opportunities for rural off-farm employment and enterprise development
- Local and national policy and programming
All of IFAD's decisions – on regional, country and thematic strategies, poverty reduction strategies, policy dialogue and development partners – are made with these principles and objectives in mind. As reflected in the strategic framework, IFAD is committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Given its mandate to eradicate rural poverty and food insecurity, and by investing to raise smallholder productivity and incomes IFAD plays a central role in achieving:
SDG 1 - No poverty: End poverty in all its forms everywhere. SDG 2 - Zero hunger: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
Underlying these objectives is IFAD's belief that rural poor people must be empowered to lead their own development if poverty is to be eradicated. Poor people must be able to develop and strengthen their own organisations, so they can advance their own interests and dismantle the obstacles that prevent many of them from creating better lives for themselves. They must be able to have a say in the decisions and policies that affect their lives, and they need to strengthen their bargaining power in the marketplace.
Partnerships to eradicate rural poverty
Through loans and grants, IFAD works with governments to develop and finance programmes and projects that enable rural poor people to overcome poverty themselves.
Since starting operations in 1978, IFAD has provided US$21.5 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached about 491 million people.
Governments and other financing sources in recipient countries, including project participants, contributed $10.8 billion (€7.5 billion), and multilateral, bilateral and other donors provided approximately another $8.8 billion, €5 billion in cofinancing. This represents a total investment of about $19.6 billion (€15 billion).
Membership in IFAD is open to all member states of the United Nations or its specialised agencies or the International Atomic Energy Agency. A state becomes a member of IFAD by ratifying the multilateral treaty known as the Agreement establishing the International Fund for Agricultural Development. The Governing Council is IFAD's highest decision-making authority, with the Member States each represented by a governor and alternate governor. The Council meets annually. The Executive Board, responsible for overseeing the general operations of IFAD and approving loans and grants, is composed of 18 members and 18 alternate members. The President, who serves for a four-year term (renewable once), is IFAD's chief executive officer and chair of the Executive Board. The current, and sixth, President of IFAD is Gilbert F. Houngbo, who was elected for a first four-year term in 2017.
The other UN member states that are not IFAD member states are Andorra, Australia (which joined in 1977 but subsequently denounced the agreement), Bahrain, Belarus, Brunei, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Monaco, Poland, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine.
Food prices and the rural poor
The prices of basic food commodities increased rapidly during the 2007–08 world food price crisis. In only the first quarter of 2008, wheat and maize prices increased by 130% and 30% respectively over 2007 figures. Rice prices, while rising moderately in 2006 and more so in 2007, rose 10% in February 2008 and an additional 10% in March 2008. The threat to food security in developing countries increased in stride. Coordinated action by the international community was essential.
IFAD's immediate response was to make available up to $200 million, €175 million from existing loans and grants to provide an urgent boost to agricultural production in the developing world, in the face of high food prices and low food stocks. But IFAD would continue to press for rapid and urgent longer-term investment in agriculture, including access to land, water, technology, financial services and markets, to enable the 450 million smallholder farms in developing countries to grow more food, more productively, and thereby increase their incomes and resilience, and respond to the increasing global demand for food.
Status of rural poverty
Despite improvements over the past ten years that have lifted more than 350 million rural people out of extreme poverty, global poverty remains a massive and predominantly rural phenomenon with 70% of the developing world's 1.4 billion extremely poor people living in rural areas. IFAD's 2011 Rural Poverty Report demonstrated that during the past decade, the overall rate of extreme poverty in rural areas of developing countries has dropped from 48% to 34%, led by dramatic gains in East Asia.The report also points to the persistence of poverty in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
IFAD came under fire in 2010 when the expenses for Nigerian agricultural entomologist Kanayo Nwanze, who had previously deemed UN staff that cared about high salaries and benefits “mercenaries”, was paying himself nearly $300,000 per year in a housing allowance and discretionary expenses, in addition to the $194,329 salary he receives.
In response to the controversy, when Nwanze was re-appointed in 2013, his compensation was capped at what he was already receiving. The controversy was so great Italy threatened to pull its funding even though IFAD is headquartered in Rome. The Australian government had already withdrawn from funding in 2007 due to similar concerns.
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