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IFAD President pledges to bring 90mn out of poverty

Kanayo F Nwanze has said that long-term rural development is the most effective way to reduce poverty

In his address to the 35th Governing Council, Kanayo F Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), committed to pull up to 90mn 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 recognised 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 nine 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 emphasising 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, saying there will be no substantial progress in poverty reduction unless there is greater investment in women.

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

Nwanze 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$1.5bn 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.

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

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