Rome-Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), will be in Paris today to take part in a roundtable that will review results from an independent evaluation of France’s partnership with IFAD.
The evaluation presents a positive picture of the partnership between IFAD and France between 2013 – 2017, looking at its relevance, impact, effectiveness and sustainability in terms of France’s development agenda. The evaluation was requested by France’s Treasury.
“France and IFAD have worked together through the years to ensure that we deliver real results to the poorest and most remote rural areas of the world,” Houngbo said prior to the event where he will address members of the French National Assembly as well as development specialists. “We look forward to discussing ways to build on these results in the future.”
For the last four decades, France has supported IFAD’s work to assist the world’s poorest rural people – smallholder farmers, fishers and nomadic herders who live in some of the world’s most remote areas. Together their shared commitment has helped to eradicate rural poverty and hunger, and transform rural economies.
“It has never been more important to scale up our efforts and to focus on long-term development,” Houngbo added. Last September, newly released figures showed that hunger increased for the first time in 10 years affecting 815 million people in 2016, 38 million more than in 2015 because of climate change and protracted crises.
The world’s 500 million small farms, which produce as much as 75 per cent of food in some areas of developing countries, are crucial to eliminate hunger, feed a growing world population and meet the demand for higher-value food products. IFAD-supported projects and programmes help farmers increase their productivity, better manage natural resources, access markets and financial services, and set up agri-businesses.
Referencing France’s development priorities, Houngbo said, “Our thematic priorities are closely aligned specifically around the need to address climate change and its impact on agriculture, the importance of giving rural women access to resources and to help rural youth find meaningful employment.”
In Africa alone, 10 million young people enter the job market every year. Houngbo believes the agricultural sector offers huge potential for young entrepreneurs and workers, offering an alternative to migration.
France has been a key partner to set up the world’s biggest fund to help smallholder farmers adapt to climate change. IFAD’s Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) channels climate finance to smallholder farmers to help them build their resilience to changing weather patterns and climate shocks. Between 2012 and 2017, 5.5 million small farmers in 41 countries benefited from ASAP finance.
In addition, support from France was key for the establishment of the Platform for Agricultural Risk Management (PARM), which helps countries integrate risks management in their agricultural policies and programmes. And France’s contributions to the Support to Farmers’ Organizations in Africa Programme through IFAD has helped strengthen African farmers’ organizations as well as their regional and pan-African networks, enabling them to provide better services to their members and contribute to national policy dialogue.
As world leaders set their sights on ending hunger and poverty by 2030 as part of their commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, Houngbo said IFAD is embarking on an ambitious plan to increase its impact by exploring new ways to increase and diversify its resource base.
To this end, last April the French Development Agency provided IFAD with a Euro 200 million loan, one of the first loans granted as part of IFAD’s new Sovereign Borrowing Framework, which enables the Fund to borrow from its member states.
France is one of IFAD’s top contributors with US$606.1 million provided to the Fund’s resources and investments portfolio since 1978.
Between 2010-2016, IFAD-supported initiatives benefited 139 million people of whom 43 million increased their agricultural revenue and 24 million moved out of poverty, half of them women.
IFAD’s investments are targeted to the poorest and most fragile countries with about 45 per cent of IFAD’s investments in Sub-Saharan Africa.