Posted by: africanpressorganization | 21 February 2011

Africa can feed the world, Kofi Annan tells IFAD Governing Council / IFAD President Nwanze urges policy leaders from 167 Member States to focus on young people to build vibrant rural economies





Africa can feed the world, Kofi Annan tells IFAD Governing Council / IFAD President Nwanze urges policy leaders from 167 Member States to focus on young people to build vibrant rural economies


ROME, Italy, February 21, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Africa has the land and the people to develop an agricultural system that can provide enough surplus to ensure global food security in decades to come, Kofi Annan, Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), said this morning at the annual meeting of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Annan, a former United Nations Secretary-General, said that good progress towards this goal is already being made, thanks to “creative thinking, effective partnerships, leadership from governments and the efforts of smallholder farmers” and that continued efforts to target resources will “enable Africa to create a surplus for global export”. He addressed governors from IFAD’s 167 Member States gathered here at the Fund’s Rome headquarters for its 34th Governing Council.

In his remarks, Annan recalled a number of factors that have led to a decline in the agricultural sector in Africa and an increase in the number of poor rural people. These include the continent’s exclusion from advances in farming technologies, poor management of resources, weak economic and infrastructure links, an unbalanced global trade regime and a dramatic decline in aid from overseas in the past three decades.

“Lack of accessible credit and other financial services have also been a huge brake on agricultural development. But all that is beginning to change thanks to innovative efforts to work with banks to share risk and boost lending for agriculture,” he said. Annan noted that partnerships involving IFAD and AGRA have leveraged US$160 million in affordable loans to agriculture from commercial banks in Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.

Annan urged IFAD Governing Council delegates to support policies and investments for Africa that support the expansion of staple food crops, a coherent approach to investment across the agricultural value chain and, importantly, a focus on smallholder farmers, whom he called “the mainstay of African agriculture”.

The opening session was also addressed by Princess Haya Al Hussein, United Nations Messenger of Peace and wife of the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates. She highlighted the challenges faced by young rural people in the Near East, and applauded IFAD for its efforts to address the concerns of rural women and youth. 

“More than 80 per cent of IFAD’s microfinance portfolio is loaned to women,” she said.  “IFAD projects offer an avenue to cope with massive rural unemployment, especially among the young. Youth unemployment is a tremendous challenge globally, but even more so in the Arab world where half our population is under 25 years old.”

Speaking at the opening session of IFAD’s Governing Council was Luigi Casero, Under-Secretary of State in the Ministry of Economy and Finance of the Italian Republic. “Supporting smallholder farmers is the most effective way we have to tackle the complex problem of eradicating poverty and creating sustainable growth,” he said.

In his address to the Governing Council, IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze sounded a note of optimism on the potential of emerging agricultural markets and value chains, which he said “offer opportunities for poor rural people to generate more income than ever before, but only if they are able to offset the high entry costs.”   He also said, “The first step is  recognizing that farming of any scale is an economic activity, a  business.  And businesses need clear links along the value chain – from production to processing, marketing and consumption.”

Nwanze also noted that supporting young women and men is critical to building vibrant rural economies, which in turn is key to overcoming larger challenges such as reducing hunger and poverty, mitigating climate change, achieving energy security and protecting the environment.

“Current events show the energy, creativity and power of young people, and also the importance of ensuring that they can see a future for themselves in the societies in which they live,” he said.

During this morning’s proceedings, the Governing Council approved the applications for membership of the Republics of Uzbekistan and Hungary by acclamation.

The Governing Council is IFAD’s highest decision-making body.  Its annual meeting will include a plenary panel discussion later today, “Feeding future generations: Young rural people today – prosperous, productive farmers tomorrow,”moderated by former CNN International presenter Tumi Makgabo. The panel will hear views from Member States and youth leaders and entrepreneurs from around the world.

Panellists will include Carlo Petrini, President of the International Slow Food Movement; Dayana Rivera Rivas, Rural Farmer Promoter of the Association of Small-scale Coffee Growers of La Marina (ASOPECAM) in Colombia; and Kevin Cleaver, IFAD Associate Vice-President for Programmes.

On Sunday 20 February, the second and final day of the meeting, the agenda will include four regionally-focused panel discussions – covering Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Near East, North Africa and Europe – featuring agricultural and rural development experts, young entrepreneurs from rural areas and leaders of youth-based organizations.  The panels will explore why rural areas are not benefiting from the talents and energies of the huge numbers of young women and men who live in rural areas of developing countries, as well as why so many of them are leaving rural areas to seek opportunities elsewhere.

For more information on IFAD’s annual meeting and a detailed programme, please visi the webiste

For images of IFAD’s work please visit the IFAD image bank.

The IFAD social reporting team will report live from the Governing Council. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook.



International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)


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