Rural farmers force for change in food security not victims – IFAD chief

The world has been told it has to invest in rural communities or face a growing global food crisis.

The President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Alvaro Lario (pic) told delegates at the IFAD’s 46th Governing Council meeting in Rome it is time for global leaders to accelerate action for food security by stepping up investments in rural communities and the small-scale farmers who produce one-third of the world’s food.

“Think how much more rural people could contribute to global food security, peace and stability if they had the resources to improve their farms and businesses and to prosper, not just survive,” Lario told heads of state, government leaders and representatives from IFAD’s 177 Member States.

As IFAD sets out on the 13th replenishment of its resources, a year-long consultative process during which member states come together to agree on strategic directions and mobilise the funds IFAD provides as concessional loans and grants to developing countries, Lario stressed the unprecedented challenges and dire circumstances now facing the world.

“The world is in permanent crisis. And it will continue to be as long as we respond to each emergency in isolation, without complementary investments in holistic, longer-term solutions,” said Lario. “It costs less to fix a problem than it does to respond to an emergency. And the more we delay, the higher the costs.”

Multiple crises, including climate change, conflict and global inflation are combining to create a food crisis of epic proportions, as progress in achieving Zero Hunger moves backwards, he warned. Currently, more than 1 in 10 people suffer from hunger and over 3 billion people cannot afford a healthy diet.

The President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, in his keynote address, emphasized the real impacts of hunger being felt in his country.

“In Somalia, we are taking food security very seriously,” said Hassan Mohamud. “In fact, I have stated many times before that food security is a fundamental part of national security for my government. In this sense the old saying that ‘a hungry person is an angry person’ is correct.”

He added: “We have the challenge of rebuilding a hopeful future for a truly resilient and deserving people with a strong innovative base to address food security and sustainable development.”

According to latest IPC statistics, parts of Somalia are extremely food insecure, just as millions more are suffering catastrophic hunger around the world.

Investments in agriculture are effective in reducing both hunger and poverty. GDP generated by agriculture, for example, is 2 to 3 times more effective in reducing poverty than growth in any other sector. “But beyond the numbers are the people,” added Lario. “The 3 billion people who rely on small-scale farming for their food and livelihoods.”

The IFAD said it is aiming to achieve a substantial real increase in Member State contributions to extend its impact around the world. IFAD13 commitments present an opportunity to define the path towards improved food security and reduced poverty after decades of under-investment in small-scale agriculture.

“IFAD is dedicated to ensuring the populations we serve, who produce so much of our food, get the support they need to take the lead in building their livelihoods and resilience,” said Lario.

“They are not passive victims but a powerful force for change,” he added.

His views were echoed by Mia Amor Mottley, prime minister of Barbados.

“This is a moment for the world to recognise that we need to invest right now in securing food and nutrition for citizens across the planet, especially poor people,” she said. “To invest in small holder agriculture. To invest in diversified local production and food systems transformation. To invest in ending the world’s hunger and nutrition crisis.”