The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is a specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to eradicating rural poverty in developing countries. It was established as an international financial institution in 1977 as one of the major outcomes of the 1974 World Food Conference. Seventy-five percent of the world 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.
The current President of the IFAD is Kanayo F. Nwanze from Nigeria, who was elected for a second-term four-year term in 2013.
IFAD’s goal is to empower poor rural women and men in developing countries to achieve higher incomes and improved food security.
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IFAD will ensure that poor rural people have better access to, and the skills and organization 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 processes
All of IFAD’s decisions – on regional, country and thematic strategies, poverty reduction strategies, and 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.
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.
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. 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 fifth, President of IFAD is Kanayo F. Nwanze, who was elected for a first four-year term in 2009.
IFAD has 173 member states. This includes 171 UN members states along with the Cook Islands and Niue.