At the G8 L'Aquila Summit in July 2009, Canada announced that it is doubling its investments in support of sustainable agricultural development by committing an additional $600 million over three years, bringing the total to $1.18 billion over the three-year period.
As part of this commitment, through its Food Security Strategy, CIDA is doubling its support to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to $75 million from 2010 to 2013.
IFAD is a specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to eradicating poverty and hunger in rural areas of developing countries. CIDA's support is helping IFAD to address the food security needs of vulnerable populations, in particular, of women.
We provide loans and grants to governments, to international organizations and sometimes to NGOs. We support government strategies that are aimed particularly in rural development. We do believe very strongly that the rural populations have the potential, and that they often times are marginalised by policies by governments.
And we do this through, providing as I said, loans and grants to support rural community development projects, most of it into agriculture and agriculture productivity.
But going beyond just supporting production we also provide them with financial services and we build the capacities to be able to run their own institutions, particularly to empower women in their communities and willing them to markets.
Now you can imagine the impact of that, particularly in developing countries where smallholder farmers, where farmers are mostly women and they do most of the work from planting, to harvesting, and to marketing, transporting the produce to the markets.
It's important to recognize that investment in smallholder agriculture in rural communities is the most assured safety net for economic growth.
It's important to note that agricultural productivity by itself is not sufficient to lift people out of poverty. They must have access to markets and here we're referring to local markets, competitive markets, not necessarily international markets. And we do this all in the framework of helping government themselves to improve the livelihood of rural populations.
For a long time agriculture was neglected, in fact there was a decrease, a decline, a sharp decline, in investments in agriculture both by international community and by national governments.
Overseas development assistance to agriculture dropped from 18 percent in 1980 to less than 5 percent in 2006 and investments by national governments dropped from about 10 percent to less than 5 percent.
So the biggest challenge was how do we reverse this process? Unfortunately, we needed a food crisis, we needed a food price crisis of 2007 and 2008 which was a wake up call. That this investment in agriculture over the last 25 to 35 years was utterly detrimental for food security and these has now culminated as you know in the G8 declaration of the L'Aquila Food Security initiative.
Food security priorities of the Canadian government focuses on smallholder agriculture, focuses on women and youth and which actually converges with what IFAD is doing.
Now our challenge is to maintain this level of awareness in international community and for national governments themselves to invest both the political wheel of governments and the leadership to ensure that we can translate these investments to tangible outputs that impacts the lives and livelihoods of the poor.
The L'Aquila declaration again we will say confirms the commitment of the international community to agriculture, has been central to food security and to economic growth of developing countries.
The Canadian government also is one of the strongest supporters of IFAD and Canada in fact more than doubled its contribution to IFAD for the eighth replenishment, which is 2010-2012.
I'd like to thank Canada for its nearly $75 million contribution to the 8th replenishment of IFAD's resources. This funding, more than double what Canada provided for the 7th replenishment, will allow us to boost our projects and programs for member countries, especially in Africa, where we spend roughly half of our project and program funds.
It means that with other members of the fund who have contributed to an overall increase of 67 percent we are now looking to enlarging our reach, increasing the size of our programs and projects to countries, up scaling some of our success stories like we have in Mozambique, in Haiti, in Columbia, in Vietnam.
Our projection is in the next cycle, replenishment cycle, with the increase in our resources, thanks to the Canadian government and other members who have been very generous to us we will be able to reach another 70 million people, rural people across the world.