Government of Canada

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

International Fund for Agricultural Development

Table of Contents



The International Fund for Agricultural Development's (IFAD) mission is to enable poor rural people to achieve food security and overcome poverty. A specialized agency of the United Nations, IFAD finances innovative agricultural and rural development projects through low-interest loans and grants. These projects help the poor increase food production, raise incomes, and improve health and nutrition.

Worldwide, nearly 2 billion rural people live on less than US$2/day. Most are smallholder farmers and their families, who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.

Canada is a founding member of IFAD and has a seat on its 18-member Executive Board.

In October 2009, Canada doubled its support to IFAD to $75 million over three years, as part of Canada's increasing food security strategy. This contribution is an important component of the Prime Minister's announcement at the 2009 L'Aquila G-8 Summit to double Canada's investment in global food security. Canada's renewed commitment to IFAD for 2013-2015 remains at $75 million. Canada and IFAD are also working together to reduce the impact of climate change on smallholder farmers. Canada has contributed $19.9 million to IFAD's new multi-donor Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme.

Since 1978, IFAD has empowered more than 350 million people to grow more food, better manage their land and other natural resources, learn new skills, start small businesses, build strong organizations and gain a voice in the decisions that affect their lives.

Thematic Focus

IFAD's mandate aligns closely with two of Canada's priority themes for international development: increasing food security and stimulating sustainable economic growth. IFAD works directly with smallholder farmers in 90 low and middle-income countries including Afghanistan, Haiti and Sudan. About half of its programming is in Africa.

Food security

IFAD's work in sustainable agricultural development makes it one of Canada's key multilateral partners in increasing agriculture productivity and addressing the specific needs of smallholder farmers.

Economic growth

IFAD's emphasis on smallholder farmers—who represent the developing world's largest group of private sector entrepreneurs—aligns with Canada's international development focus on supporting the growth of micro- and small-sized businesses.

It is important that the 450 million small farms worldwide—on which a third of the world's population depends—are adequately supported and equipped with products and services, especially knowledge and technology. Increasing the productivity and nutrition of smallholder farmers will result in increased incomes and health for their families and their communities.

Strategy for Working with IFAD

Canada's international development work with IFAD focuses on three strategic objectives:

  1. Encouraging IFAD to invest more resources in smallholder farmers, in particular to invest in productivity gains that will improve both the quantity and nutritional quality of food production. This includes:
    • Strengthening IFAD's country strategies to ensure that smallholder farmers (particularly women) benefit from IFAD-supported projects
    • Improving connections between small farms and both national and international markets
    • Encouraging IFAD to work in better cooperation with international agricultural research centres—in particular the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research—to scale up tested innovations with smallholder farmers
  2. Working with IFAD to ensure IFAD programs fit within food security systems at the country, regional and international levels. This includes:
    • Leveraging IFAD's previous experience with the world's poorest farmers to more actively engage with other organizations and groups involved in agricultural development such as multilateral donors, non-governmental organizations, universities and the private sector
    • Better coordinating with these groups and exploring increased joint programming
  3. Encouraging IFAD to build on its recent reforms aimed at improving the effectiveness of the organization. This includes:
    • Pushing IFAD to continue implementing its Management for Development Results framework aimed at improving IFAD's ability to measure, report and achieve results in the field
    • Encouraging IFAD to further strengthen its independent evaluation function and implement its recently adopted human resource strategy


In 2011, with the support of Canada and other donors, IFAD:

  • Reached more than 43 million clients, half of whom were women, in 94 countries
  • Trained more than 4.5 million people to use improved agricultural practices and technologies, enabling them to increase productivity
  • Built or repaired about 18,000 kilometres of roads, connecting often remote rural communities to services, markets and urban centres
  • Formed or strengthened more than 13,000 marketing groups and trained 716,000 people in business and entrepreneurship
  • Trained about 2 million people to sustainably manage common property resources, such as land, water and forests, and improved the management of 5.5 million hectares of common property land
  • Helped provide financial services to more than 8 million savers and nearly 5 million borrowers (through rural financial institutions), making it possible for them to invest in their farms and businesses, manage risk and plan for the future