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.
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.
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.
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.
Canada's international development work with IFAD focuses on three strategic objectives:
In 2011, with the support of Canada and other donors, IFAD: