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The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), (Italian: Fondo Internazionale per lo Sviluppo Agricolo), a specialized agency of the United Nations, was established as an international financial institution in 1977 as one of the major outcomes of the 1974 World Food Conference. IFAD is dedicated to eradicating rural poverty in developing countries. Seventy-five per cent of the world’s poor live in rural areas in developing countries, yet only 4% of official development assistance goes to agriculture.
The strategic policy of IFAD is detailed in Strategic Framework for IFAD 2011-2015: Enabling the Rural Poor to Overcome Poverty. Its headquarters is in Rome, Italy and is a member of the United Nations Development Group.
IFAD will ensure that poor rural people have better access to, and the skills and organization they need to take advantage of:
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 Millennium Development Goals, in particular the target to halve the proportion of hungry and extremely poor people by 2015.
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 organizations, 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.
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 invested US$12.0 billion, DM 7.5 billion in 860 projects and programmes that have reached some 370 million poor rural people.
Governments and other financing sources in recipient countries, including project participants, contributed US$10.8 billion (€7.5 billion), and multilateral, bilateral and other donors provided approximately another US$8.8 billion, €5 billion in cofinancing. This represents a total investment of about US$19.6 billion (€15 billion).
IFAD tackles poverty not only as a lender, but also as an advocate for rural poor people. Its multilateral base provides a natural global platform to discuss important policy issues that influence the lives of rural poor people, as well as to draw attention to the centrality of rural development to meeting the Millennium Development Goals.
Membership in IFAD is open to any State that is a member of the United Nations or its specialized agencies or the International Atomic Energy Agency. 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 fifth, President of IFAD is Kanayo F. Nwanze, who was elected for a first four-year term in 2009.
Members of IFAD are 163 of the UN members, along with Cook Islands and Niue, and they are classified as follows: List A (primarily OECD members); List B (primarily OPEC members); and List C (developing countries). List C is further divided into sub-list C1 (countries in Africa); sub-list C2 (countries in Europe, Asia and the Pacific); and sub-list C3 (countries in Latin America and the Caribbean).
The signatories or states later approved for membership, that have not yet finished their ratification procedures are: Bahamas (approved in 2008), Marshall Islands (approved 2009) and Yemen (1977 signatory).
The other non-member states are: Andorra, Australia, Bahrain, Belarus, Brunei, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Micronesia, Monaco, Montenegro, Nauru, Palau, Poland, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Ukraine, Vanuatu, Vatican City and the states with limited recognition.
The Governing Council is IFAD's highest decision-making authority. Each Member State is represented in the Governing Council by a Governors, Alternate Governors and any other designated advisers. The Executive Board is responsible for overseeing the general operations of IFAD and for approving its programme of work. Membership on the Executive Board is determined by the Governing Council and is presently distributed as follows: List A: eight Members and eight Alternate Members; List B: four Members and four Alternate Members; and List C: six Members and six Alternate Members; two each in the three regional subdivisions of List C Member States.
The prices of basic food commodities have increased rapidly over the past three years. In only the first quarter of 2008, wheat and maize prices increased by 130 percent and 30 percent respectively over 2007 figures. Rice prices, while rising moderately in 2006 and more so in 2007, rose 10 percent in February 2008 and a further 10 percent in March 2008. The threat to food security in developing countries increases in stride. Coordinated action by the international community, and by the United Nations in particular, is essential.
IFAD’s immediate response has been to make available up to US$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 will also 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.
Despite improvements over the past 10 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 per cent of the developing world’s 1.4 billion extremely poor people living in rural areas. IFAD’s newly released Rural Poverty Report 2011 says that, during the past decade, the overall rate of extreme poverty in rural areas of developing countries has dropped from 48 per cent to 34 per cent, led by dramatic gains in East Asia. But the report also points to the persistence of poverty in rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
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