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Top five reasons why we love small farmers

Posted by Beate Stalsett Friday, February 12, 2016 0 comments

Written by Sally Martinelli, Simona Siad and Katie Taft

As different cultures celebrate Valentine's Day, IFAD reminds the world of the importance of investing in small farmers. 

At IFAD, we love investing in small farmers. Some of our reasons may be obvious – small family farms feed up to 80 per cent of the population in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, manage a large share of the natural resources and ecosystems, and support the livelihoods of more than 2 billion people. 

Other reasons might be surprising – for instance, did you know behind each box of chocolate is the important work done by a small farmer?

There are so many reasons we believe the world should also love and support small farmers, but here are our top five reasons.

1. Small farming provides rural youth with job opportunities 

In the Near East and North Africa region, seventeen million young people – more than 20 per cent of the population – are without work. Since young people face the highest rates of poverty, they often move away from home to seek opportunity elsewhere. However, when young people work in agriculture, they not only can support themselves, but are more likely to adopt new technologies. This creates better yields, which in turn allows farmers to continue feeding the world's growing population. Rural youth are an important factor in eradicating food insecurity internationally.

IFAD supports the ambition young people have to not only find employment, but to act as entrepreneurs within the industry. The IFAD Rural Youth Economic Empowerment Programme (RYEEP) combines IFAD's knowledge of rural development with the expertise of two entrepreneurship-focused social enterprises to create employment opportunities for more than 18,000 rural youth between the ages 15 and 35.

2. Small farmers contribute to climate change mitigation 

Climate change is the biggest threat humanity faces today and small farmers are on the front lines to battle it. Rural farmers are guardians of natural resources, often managing vast areas of land and forest. Improving land management and farming practices and planting forests can help lower greenhouse gas emissions. Small farmers are combating the effects of climate change by implementing new farming techniques.

In pursuing its target to reduce 80 million tons of C02e by 2020, IFAD is supporting small farmers with adaptation projects that could reduce emission by 30 million tons. These initiatives includes planting trees and creating natural barriers against flooding and unpredictable rains, using crops that are adapted to resist climate change, and other solutions to address short-and-long-term problems.

3. Small farmers produce much of the world's cocoa (and chocolate) 

The world spends US$83 billion each year on chocolate. Europeans especially love chocolate, eating one kilogram of it every month. This industry depends on the five million small-scale family farmers who grow 90 per cent of the world's cocoa. IFAD is helping cocoa farmers in 12 countries to overcome problems such as pests, disease and unsustainable production methods that harm the harvest and local environment. In São Tomé, IFAD has formed a relationship with the local farmers to connect their high-quality cocoa with Fair Trade buyers such as Kaoka. These efforts have helped nearly 2,000 farming families in São Tomé to revitalize their cocoa industry and produce 1,200 tons of cocoa in 2014.

Fatima, small farmer from São Tomé 

4. Small farmers contribute to global food security 

The population of the planet is expected to grow to almost 9.5 billion people by 2050. Food production will need to nearly double in developing countries to feed this population and address existing hunger and malnutrition. Since most of the world’s farms are small, investing in them will be the only way to address this growing demand.

In Cuba, an IFAD-funded project has organized 157 farming cooperatives to increase the production and productivity of crops such as maize and beans. The Cooperative Rural Development Project in the Oriental Region (PRODECOR) supports the country — which imports 80 per cent of its basic food requirements — to address food insecurity. The population has been impeded by intense drought due to climate change and limited agricultural machinery. With the use of new technologies and the pooling of knowledge, these cooperatives are expected to benefit over 52,000 people.

5. Small farmers preserve biodiversity 

Biodiversity is an essential part of preserving the planet. Changes to an environment such as the loss of a plant or species has the potential to derail the balance of the whole region. When family farmers take the necessary steps to secure their local environment, they not only ensure that their crops yield bountiful harvests, but that there will be future harvests too.

With the support of IFAD, small farmers in Brazil have implemented new agricultural practices that are more environmentally friendly. Over the course of nine years, the region saw a 69 per cent reduction in land erosion, and carbon sequestration ranging from 15 to 79 per cent. In the 20,000 hectares of saved and preserved land, there has been an increase in diverse species of 11 per cent.

Transforming rural areas in Cameroon: Taking stock and looking forward

Posted by Steven Jonckheere Thursday, February 11, 2016 0 comments

The agricultural sector is vital for Cameroon; it employs around 50 per cent of the economically active population and has been able to support the overall economy in a context of falling oil and industrial revenues. Apart from some agro-industrial plantations and a few large private farms, agriculture is dominated by small family farms. Most of them employ manual methods, often make use of casual labour and use few or no external inputs. In rural areas 50 per cent of the population lives in poverty. Rural youth in Cameroon, faced with a lack of opportunities, skills and resources, are one of the population groups most vulnerable to poverty. IFAD is working with the Government of Cameroon to build the organizational capacity and bargaining power of poor rural people and their organizations and to achieve sustainable improvements in the prospects for income-generating on-farm and off-farm activities of poor rural people, particularly women and you
ng people.

From 9 to 12 February 2016 the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Territorial Development and the IFAD country office in Cameroon have brought together a wide range of stakeholders in Kribi to look at current trends, take stock of what the IFAD-supported projects have achieved so far and to plan ahead for the next four years. Participants include representatives from sectorial ministries, youth groups, producers’ organisations, project management units and the IFAD country team. Emphasis has been put on strengthening linkages between the different IFAD-supported projects, building the capacity to document and share experiences and promoting a management-for-results culture.

Each of the three IFAD-supported projects has worked out a knowledge management strategy. Areas for collaboration between the projects have been identified. In addition, IFAD’s country strategy results framework for Cameroon has been updated, which will support the use of performance information to improve decision-making. Finally, the event has helped to boost team spirit amongst the various stakeholders. All participants re-confirmed their commitment to a common agenda: transforming rural areas in Cameroon.

Philippines Annual country program review : an enriching ACPoR

Posted by Benoit THIERRY Monday, February 8, 2016 0 comments

An enriching Philippines ACPoR- The core of knowledge management 

The 8th Annual Country Programme Review (ACPoR) of IFAD-Philippines has been scheduled to convene the representatives and guests of IFAD-assisted programmes/projects in the country, chaired by Under Secretary Ongkiko, DAR and Palad, DA and Mr. Benoit Thierry-IFAD Country Programme Manager.

The year’s meeting held on 27-2 8 January 2016 in the city of Baguio- the Cordillera of Northern Phillipines.  As in the past 7 editions, the 2015 review recounts the result performance of the IFAD-funded programmes  (both loans and grants funded by IFAD) in the country and assess the contribution of these projects to the objectives of the Philippines-Country Strategic Operations Programme (PH-COSOP) and the Philipines Development Plan (PDP). Not only the meeting was devoted to review implementation activities and share project good practices and experiences; but it also discussed about the hindered challenges/difficulties projects are encountering and realistic gaps they are facing. 
From there, innovative ideas and strategic development plans for future actions were generated among a team of IFAD representatives, projects’officers and partners.  IFAD is well-known to be a learning-based organization and this Philippines ACPoR can be seen as one of the very illustrative example for its strong knowledge management. The participants had a field interaction with Second Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resource Management Project (CHARMP2) with a purpose of acting to be a venue for knowledge sharing among IFAD projects.  

This AcPoR was also the opportunity to launch the first ever Country Programme Evaluation by IFAD in Philippines, During 2016 and as a preamble to the new COSOP, this CPE will review all IFAD funded activities over the past 10 years in the country.

The first day of AcPoR was dedicated to field visit in Cordiallera, A wide range of activities were running including the visit to the rehabilitated Calasipan-Apanberang-Mongoto farm to market road, the organic garden of the livelihood investment groups, the reforestation and agroforestry site, and the coffee-processing center of the Abiang Community Multi-purpose Cooperative. 

In this case, the following statement of Peter Drucken is possibly used for the roadmap 2016 of Phillippines projects that “Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes”.  

Photo Credit: Robert Domogen - CHARMP Project.

Two new projects in the Philipines was introduced this week.  The Fisheries Coastal Resources and Livelihood (FishCORAL) on 19 Januay 2016 and the Project Convergence on Value Chain Enhancement for Rural Growth and Empowerment (CONVERGE) on 21 January 2016.

FishCORAL aims to aid fishing households below the poverty line in the areas of Region 5, 8, 13 and ARMM

Project CONVERGE aims to reduce incidence of poverty in the ten target provinces of Regions 9, 10 and CARAGA located in the west, north and northeast of Mindanao which are among the six poorest regions of the country through crop diversification and increased farm income.

Guest Blog: Who is responsible for climate change?

Posted by Ricci Symons Friday, January 15, 2016 0 comments

By Julie Potyraj from George Washington University,

As extreme weather events occur more commonly across the globe, it is becoming apparent that the implications of climate change extend far past a change in the Earth’s average temperature. Though all countries will be affected, The World Bank cautions that poor countries are the most at risk for complications due to the changes in weather. Increasingly severe droughts, floods, and heat waves will hinder crop production and reduce the availability of safe water. Information collected by Global Agriculture shows that millions of people in the world’s poorest countries rely on either subsistence or commercial agriculture, so any changes in solar radiation, temperature, and hydrologic cycle could threaten their livelihoods. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) crop yields, food prices, and overall food security will be negatively affected by climate change as well, though the exact impact is difficult to calculate due to a variety of determinants that include regional climates, agricultural practices, and types of crops.
Certain parts of the world, specifically Africa and Asia, are already suffering from extreme weather events. There has been a push to emphasize funding for climate “adaptation” in addition to climate “mitigation.” Adaptation is the preparation for the effects of climate change, while mitigation involves initiatives that obstruct the progress of climate change. It is no longer enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the future; damage has already been done. Many organizations, like The World Bank, are prioritizing disaster risk management and other immediate climate change adaptation strategies in order to brace for the effects of the Earth’s rising temperature in the world’s poorest countries; without adaptation, those countries are even more exposed and vulnerable.
Why? Because a slight change in the Earth’s temperature can result in immeasurable consequences on the daily lives of poor rural communities. Lower crop production, changing landscapes, and shrinking safe water supplies caused by the effects of climate change will hinder economic development and increase world hunger. Severe weather events facilitate the spread of disease. The damage that weather causes to infrastructure and rural environments makes it more difficult to provide people with the medical attention they need. If they are unable to cope with unstable soil conditions and unreliable water availability, rural families may be forced to temporarily or permanently resettle. However, migration can lead to political, social, and economic instability. Migration is an extreme and disruptive adaptation strategy, but it may be the only option for inhabitants of the most vulnerable regions.
Though agriculture is actually a contributing factor to greenhouse gas emissions, the people most susceptible to the harmful effects of climate change are not necessarily the people with the power to mitigate the Earth’s rising temperatures. The following data visualization from MHA@GW, the online Executive Master of Health Administration offered through the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University, compares the nations that contribute the most CO2 emissions to the nations that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Many of the most vulnerable nations are already predisposed to severe weather events such as drought and flooding. Unless developed countries take accountability for their contribution to climate change, the world’s most vulnerable countries and communities will increasingly struggle to adapt to its negative effects.

This graphic can be seen in a larger form here.

A glance at your favourite social media content

Posted by Gabriele Marchese Thursday, January 14, 2016 0 comments

As the new year is upon us, we had a look back at IFAD's social media highlights of 2015 to see what our followers engaged with the most over the course of the year. What were the agriculture and rural development issues you found most interesting? Let’s take you through our findings.

Achieving food security in a changing climate

One of the themes you have been engaged with the most is climate change and its impact on food security. Our Recipes for Change showed the effects of unpredictable and extreme weather conditions on rural people's traditional crops and dishes.

Partnering with rural communities in developing countries and local celebrity chefs, we brought you a taste of food traditions from around the world, and included the recipes for you to try at home.

Last year, climate change was high on the world's agenda. The world's leaders gathered together in Paris in November to reach a global agreement to protect the environment. At the UN's Climate Conference (COP21) IFAD focused on the role of rural people in mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

At the COP21, our followers participated actively in our campaign "Make the Change". Thanks to everyone who contributed and shared the petition on social media, we were many who said "Make the change: Invest in farmers in the developing world now!"


In this episode of #RecipesForChange, top Bolivian chef Marko Bonifaz discovers how climate change is threatening the...
Posted by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) on Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Building a better world, it's about people

In September, the UN General Assembly approved 17 new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that commit the world to shape a better future for the next generations. A future free of poverty and hunger. As entrepreneurs and agents of change, rural people and smallholder farmers are critical to ending poverty, feeding the world and protecting the planet.

We gathered stories of rural people, who with the right investments are making a considerable difference for their families and communities, by doing their job as farmers, fishers or livestock breeders. 

In the lead up to the 70th session of the UN General Assembly, we launched a campaign to tell the world's leaders that: Building a better future - it's about people. Over 500 followers signed up for our Thunderclap and the support enabled us to spread the stories of WafaaBenjaminAna Sofia and many others to more than half a million people.

International days 

The United Nations observes designated days, weeks, years, and decades, and assigns each of them a specific topic that resonates with the priorities of the global agenda. As a specialised UN agency, IFAD has celebrated many of those observances, like International Women's Day, World Soil Day and World Environment Day.

The one our followers engaged with the most was the World Happiness Day, celebrated on 20 March. Also, during the World Food Week in October, our followers engaged with us at multiple events such as the UN Committee on World Food Security and the Expo2015 in Milan for the World Food Day, on 16 October.

AgTalks: Bringing you the latest trends in small-scale farming

Introduced during the International year of Family Farming, the AgTalks series has become a regular appointment, offering up-to-date insights and research on smallholder farming. Innovators, policy-makers and rural people have come to IFAD Headquarters in Rome to join a live discussion, and engage with the audience in the room as well as followers on social media. The topics have often been connected to the international agenda, like the one on the International Day of Rural Women.

The future belongs to organised farmers, says Beatrice Makwenda in her #AgTalks that was just released yesterday.Watch the full episode here: http://www.ifad.org/agtalks/index.htm
Posted by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) on Thursday, June 18, 2015

Stay tuned

The content reported above is just a small piece of the broader mosaic of topics, events, and research findings we have talked about on social media.

If you want to know more about what's going on in the environment of agricultural and rural development, read more stories of smallholder farmers, find out the latest thoughts and trends on rural transformation - then stay tuned and follow us in 2016!

We are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google Plus, Linkedin, and Blogspot. And don’t miss the thoughts and quotes from IFAD's President, Kanayo F. Knwanze, which he shares on his Twitter account.

30 años de compromiso con El Salvador

Posted by cortescarrasbal Tuesday, January 12, 2016 0 comments

Por Anna Rivera y María Luisa Saponaro

El Fondo Internacional para el Desarrollo Agrícola (FIDA) celebró el año pasado 30 años de colaboración con el Gobierno de El Salvador y compromiso con la población rural salvadoreña Una parte esencial de las conmemoraciones fue la celebración en noviembre de la 1ª. Semana FIDA sobre Desarrollo Rural, Diálogo, Conocimiento y Articulación - El Rostro Humano del Desarrollo.
El evento, organizado en coordinación con el Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería (MAG) y otros sectores claves de la sociedad salvadoreña, tenía como objetivo impulsar el diálogo y el debate sobre políticas públicas, abordando temas como la participación y oportunidades para la juventud rural, el empoderamiento económico de las mujeres rurales y de los pueblos indígenas y el medio ambiente y la mitigación de los efectos del cambio climático.

La jornada inaugural de la semana contó con la presencia del ministro de Agricultura y Ganadería, Orestes Ortez, quien destacó en su discurso el compromiso del gobierno de trabajar por el desarrollo del sector productivo en las zonas rurales.
“La colaboración del FIDA ha sido esencial en los avances conseguidos en este terreno”, aseguró Ortez. El titular del MAG agradeció al FIDA y al resto de agencias de la ONU presentes en El Salvador su cooperación con el desarrollo del país en los más diversos ámbitos sociales y económicos.
Glayson Ferrari, gerente del programa del FIDA para El Salvador, declaró: “Lo que vamos a mostrar aquí durante esta semana no es fruto tan solo del trabajo del FIDA, sino de la colaboración entre muchos socios, del esfuerzo de muchas manos trabajando al unísono”.
Uno de los principales momentos del evento fue la presentación de la Estrategia del FIDA en ElSalvador para los años 2015-2019. Dicha estrategia, elaborada en estrecha colaboración con el gobierno, la sociedad civil, el sector privado y, por supuesto, las organizaciones rurales salvadoreñas, prevé una inversión de 41 millones de dólares para luchar contra la pobreza rural.
El objetivo del FIDA durante estos años será generar riqueza y bienestar entre las y los pequeños agricultores salvadoreños y sus familias, a través de la consecución de tres objetivos estratégicos:

  • ·      Mejorar el acceso de las y los pequeños agricultores a tecnologías, recursos e información; que les permitan desarrollar una agricultura más sostenible y adaptarse al cambio climático.
  • ·      Promover el empoderamiento económico de la juventud, las mujeres rurales y los pueblos indígenas.
  • ·       Contribuir a los esfuerzos del gobierno para invertir de forma más eficaz, eficiente y equitativa en las áreas rurales.
Las operaciones financiadas por el FIDA en el país son y serán continuidad de una colaboración que comenzó en 1985 y que se ha concretado en los 10 proyectos de desarrollo llevados a cabo conjuntamente con el MAG. Dos de dichos proyectos están todavía activos y un tercero, Rural Adelante, fue aprobado por la Junta Ejecutiva del FIDA el pasado mes de diciembre y en breve estará operativo.
Más de 560 personas asistieron al evento, en el que participaron 120 representantes de instituciones de gobierno salvadoreño y de gobiernos locales. Entre ellos, además del titular del MAG, cuatro viceministros de Agricultura y Ganadería (Hugo Flores), Economía (Merlin Alejandrina Barrera), Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (Ángel Ibarra) y Gobernación y Desarrollo Territorial (Daysi Villalobos).
También estuvieron representados 36 socios estratégicos del FIDA en El Salvador y América Central, incluyendo organizaciones de la sociedad civil, ONGs (PROCASUR, RIMISP-Centro Latinoamericano para el Desarrollo Rural, PRISMA, Grupo de Diálogo Rural de El Salvador, Instituto Centroamericano de Estudios Fiscales-ICEFI, SNV y Fundación Salvadoreña para el Desarrollo Económico y Social-FUSADES), empresa privada (AGEXPORT) y organizaciones internacionales (Comisión Económica para América Latina-CEPAL y ONU Mujeres). Muchos de ellos fueron co-organizadores de distintos momentos y actos incluidos dentro del programa de la semana.
Los 11 paneles temáticos realizados abordaron importantes cuestiones en el área del diálogo sobre políticas públicas para el desarrollo rural:
  • participación democrática,
  • oportunidades económicas de los y las jóvenes;
  • empoderamiento económico de las mujeres;
  • programas de transferencia monetaria; acceso a mercados;
  • alianzas entre los sectores público y privado y las y los pequeños productores rurales;
  • medio ambiente y cambio climático;
  • soberanía y seguridad alimentaria;
  • y la participación y empoderamiento económico de los pueblos indígenas.
Junto con ellos, 6 talleres proporcionaron formación práctica a decenas de asistentes en cuestiones como metodologías para el diálogo sobre políticas públicas de desarrollo rural, participación en mercados y cadenas de valor o negocios inclusivos.
La juventud tuvo un papel relevante. Más de 110 jóvenes rurales participaron en diversos paneles sobre juventud rural y en la Asamblea de la Red Nacional de Jóvenes Rurales. Durante este último evento, aprobaron un plan de trabajo y acordaron la creación de la Asociación Integral de Redes Juveniles Rurales de El Salvador (AREJURES), que les representará a nivel nacional. Las y los miembros de la primera junta directiva de la recién creada asociación, fueron juramentados por Yeymi Muñoz, directora general del Instituto Nacional de Juventud (INJUVE).
Los y las jóvenes rurales expusieron su necesidad de más oportunidades para la participación y explicaron cómo muchos de ellos viven en condiciones de pobreza y vulnerabilidad, su falta de recursos para convertirse en pequeños agricultores o emprendedores rurales y cómo tienen que lidiar con la carga de la persistente violencia criminal que afecta a El Salvador.

Glayson Ferrari destacó el papel clave de la juventud en el desarrollo rural: “Sin una juventud empoderada, todo esfuerzo en favor de un desarrollo rural inclusivo será en vano. Los jóvenes son la respuesta a muchos de los desafíos que las áreas rurales afrontan. Son ellos quienes pueden incrementar el uso de tecnologías, desarrollar nuevos servicios y llevar adelante negocios rurales más competitivos”.
A lo largo de la semana, el FIDA firmó tres importantes acuerdos:
  • Con la Asociación Guatemalteca de Exportadores (AGEXPORT), para promover oportunidades de acceso a mercados para las y los pequeños productores de Guatemala, Honduras y El Salvador;
  • Con el Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo (PNUD), la ONG Visión Mundial y el Instituto Nacional de la Juventud (INJUVE) para apoyar a la juventud rural.
  • Con la ONG PRISMA y el Comité Nacional de Agricultura Familiar (CNAF) para fortalecer la soberanía y seguridad alimentaria.
Durante el evento se presentaron diversos estudios relacionados con la economía, el desarrollo rural y la política fiscal en la región centroamericana. Entre ellos, los estudios El desarrollo rural en cifras e Incidencia de la política fiscal en el ámbito rural de Centroamérica. El caso de El Salvador, elaborados por el ICEFI con el apoyo del FIDA.
Jonathan Menkos, director ejecutivo del instituto destacó que “El Salvador es uno de los países centroamericanos donde existe mayor inversión per cápita en desarrollo rural”. Sin embargo, como en la mayor parte de Centroamérica, su población rural continúa sufriendo “un inadecuado acceso a servicios y bienes básicos, lo que genera desigualdades en las tasas de bienestar, empleo e ingreso”. Políticas fiscales adecuadas pueden ayudar a cambiar esta realidad, logrando una distribución más equitativa de la renta.
Este hecho no se da en El Salvador, donde según Betty Pérez, representante del Consejo Coordinador Nacional Indígena Salvadoreño (CCNIS) , prima “una visión paternalista de las políticas sociales”.
Por su parte, la directora del Centro de Investigación y Estadísticas de FUSADES, Margarita de Sanfeliú, presentó el estudio Programas de Transferencias Monetarias y Desarrollo Rural: El Caso de El Salvador.
Como ven, la 1ª Semana FIDA en El Salvador estuvo repleta de acontecimientos. Fue un desafío apasionante organizarla. Pero, una vez que ha pasado, comienza un desafío todavía más apasionante: aprovechar toda la energía y el conocimiento que el evento generó para avanzar en la senda de una transformación rural inclusiva y sostenible en El Salvador.