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by Gretchen Robleto




El Presidente del FIDA explica la
importancia de un almacenamiento y elaboración
 adecuados para aumentar el valor de mercado
 de la producción en Nicaragua.
Kanayo F. Nwanze, Presidente del Fondo Internacional de Desarrollo Agrícola (FIDA), viajó  a la República de Nicaragua,  entre el 13 y 16 de julio para visitar emprendimientos rurales basados en cultivo y comercialización de hortalizas, cooperativas de granja porcina, café y aceite de coco, este último en Laguna de Perlas, Región Autónoma del Atlántico Sur de Nicaragua (RAAS). 

En Nicaragua, Nwanze  constató los progresos realizados en la esfera del desarrollo rural y reducción de la pobreza. Durante su visita  a la zona norte y la Costa Caribe, el Presidente del FIDA se reunió con emprendedores rurales, la mayoría mujeres, a quienes el FIDA ha apoyado mediante proyectos de desarrollo productivo, como estrategia para luchar contra la pobreza. En la visita también participó Josefina Stubbs, Directora del FIDA para  América Latina y el Caribe.

El Presidente del FIDA fue acompañado por el Vicecanciller de Nicaragua, Valdrack Jaentschke; la Ministra de Economía Familiar, Comunitaria, Cooperativa y Asociativa, María Antonieta Machado y el  Ministro Agropecuario, Edward Centeno.

 “Lo he visto en distintas comunidades rurales de todo el mundo, tanto de  América Latina como de África y Asia:  si queremos  comunidades que prosperen, debemos invertir en las mujeres rurales, porque una vez que la mujer rural está empoderada económica y financieramente, hay una inversión en la comunidad y la comunidad se transforma. Las mujeres rurales son mejores administradoras de recursos, tanto financieros  como ambientales;  ellas reinvierten en sus familias, en la educación de sus hijos y la nutrición. Sus hijos pueden ir  a la escuela y su desempeño mejora y la comunidad se desarrolla”, destacó el Presidente del FIDA durante una reunión con mujeres miembros de la cooperativa “Amor y Esperanza”, compuesta  por 116 mujeres de Terrabona y Ciudad Darío y la Cooperativa Leila López, formada por 158 mujeres de Sébaco y San Isidro (norte de Nicaragua).

Consuelo Velásquez, Presidenta de la cooperativa “Amor y Esperanza”, dijo a Nwanze: “Antes éramos productoras, ahora decimos que somos empresarias”. Durante un recorrido por la granja porcina de la cooperativa, Velásquez explicó a los medios de comunicación que “el principio de la cooperativa es ser solidarias  entre las mujeres, nadie quiere hacerse rico, pero sí salir de la pobreza y ayudar al crecimiento del país”.

Velásquez es madre de 3 hijos. “Mi hija no podía estudiar porque no había  posibilidades, los ingresos (los  que le generan la granja porcina) me ayudan a que mi hija pueda seguir sus estudios, me beneficia porque estos ingresos ayudan a ser libres,  son  parte del enfoque de género porque me ayudan a liberarme, no es sólo estar en la casa. Muchas mujeres dicen que no trabajan pero en realidad hacen un montón de trabajo en la casa”, explicó la Presidenta de la cooperativa Amor y Esperanza. 

Por su parte, el Presidente del FIDA manifestó: “Estoy muy complacido de ver que el FIDA participa en este proyecto de desarrollo rural, porque creemos que el desarrollo rural es central para el desarrollo  y la seguridad nacionales. Queremos que los jóvenes vuelvan al espacio rural y no solamente que emigren a Managua, sino que puedan contribuir al desarrollo de su espacio rural. Pero para que esto suceda el Gobierno debe invertir en infraestructuras, caminos, electricidad, escuelas, servicios de salud, servicios sociales y  agua (de modo que ustedes encuentren las condiciones adecuadas para invertir en sus empresas).  Eso es lo que la población rural quiere”.


Durante su viaje por el norte de Nicaragua, el Presidente del FIDA visitó una planta procesadora de hortalizas en Sébaco, Matagalpa, donde miembros de la cooperativa COOPRAHORT compartieron sus experiencias. Años atrás sufrían pérdidas económicas debido a  la  falta de infraestructura adecuada por lo que, al tener urgencia de vender su producción,  el intermediario les compraba su producción a precio muy bajo y se quedaba con la mayor parte de la ganancia de la venta.  Ahora, en cambio, mediante el equipamiento con el que cuentan los productores, la producción de cebolla tiene 4 meses más de vida útil, y por lo tanto no hay urgencia por vender. Sus ganancias se han incrementado en más del 100%.  La cooperativa integra a productores de Terrabona, Ciudad Darío y Sébaco, 251 mujeres y 90 hombres.

“Nada da más satisfacción, señor alcalde,  que poder observar experiencias exitosas que están siendo apoyadas por el FIDA”, manifestó el Presidente del FIDA al alcalde de Matagalpa, Sadrach Zeledón.

La misión del FIDA y la delegación gubernamental también visitaron la Cooperativa Solidaridad R.L, en Matagalpa, donde se acopia el café de los socios, quienes cultivan el grano a 1,300 de metros de altura sobre el nivel del mar.  Dicha cooperativa produce café gourmet para exportación.

by Sophie Ritchie

In the lead-up to the upcoming Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), a Google+ Hangout entitled “Samoa 2014: Empowering Youth for Sustainable Islands” took place on Thursday 24th July, and allowed young people from SIDS across the globe to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing these Island-States with the Conference Secretary-General, Wu Hongbo.

Youth representatives from the Caribbean, the Pacific, and the Africa, Indian Ocean, Mediterreanean, and South China Sea (AIMS) shared their views on what present and future actions the youth are partaking in, and planning for, to improve the social, environmental and economic outcomes for their societies; and spoke briefly of the challenges such communities face.The specific challenges that SIDS face; and the unique answers to Sustainable Development problems they offer

The meeting opened with a statement from Mr. Wu Hongbo, who spoke to several points of pertinence for the future of Sustainable Development in SIDS. Firstly, Mr. Hongbo outlined the particularly vulnerable position in which SIDS exist, and the necessary urgency the international community must utilize in mobilizing behind their needs. Indeed, Mr. Hongbo outlined that, despite the fact that SIDs were now facing a suite of challenges and dangers relating to natural disaster and climate change, he highlighted that if Sustainable Development was not taken seriously, many other Member States would also inevitably face this eventuality. The social, economic and environmental pillars of sustainable development are mutually reinforcing and inextricably intertwined; and nowhere is this more apparent than in the SIDS. Mr. Hongbo continued in emphasizing the role and significance of the upcoming conference in Apia, Samoa, in identifying priorities, challenges, and opportunities present in SIDS within the post-2015 development agenda. Mr. Hongbo’s address affirmed that, at present, SIDS face a significant amount of challenges that threaten to undermine their ability to properly enact sustainable development within their own domestic contexts.

From an economic perspective, the majority of SIDS suffer from small, and isolated economic capacities, vulnerability to external (demand and supply-side) shocks, and a narrow resource base. Further, the continuing global and economic financial crisis, negative impacts of climate change, global food and energy crises, and uneven absorption into global trade and development processes, coupled with low rates of economic resilience, have posed a multitude of dire consequences for SIDS economies. In addition to these economic challenges, the SIDS also face a disproportionate amount of social problems; particularly insofar as the weakening of social cohesion is concerned. This breakdown in social fabric is being reinforced by external shocks and decreasing amounts of state-provided social protection mechanisms; and is leading to increasing levels of crime and violence, Non-Communicable Diseases (NDCs), and widening income gulfs between the rich and the poor within SIDS.  However, notwithstanding the significant amount of social, environmental and economic challenges facing SIDS, Mr. Hongbo also noted that SIDS enjoy unique opportunities, and offer unique answers to shared global problems in the future of Sustainable Development; and may path the way in the necessary pursuit of innovative thinking, best practice, and paradigm change in the post-2015 agenda.

Youth priorities for SIDS within the post-2015 agenda

Following this, presentations from different youth representatives within SIDS regions allowed SIDS focal-points from differing regional perspectives to voice their thoughts on priorities for their respective regional contexts. In opening, youth activist Ms. Karuna Raya urged youth participants in the conference to inform themselves as to the political processes underpinning negotiations, including: the outcome document of the SIDS Preparatory Committee, the Barbados Declaration and Programme of Action, the steering and drafting committees of SIDS negotiations, along with the lobbying interests and political stances of certain Member States to the United Nations General Assembly. The Pacific representative articulated several cross-cutting issues of importance for the region, namely: the critical importance of capacity-building within SIDS, access to all levels of education, job creation for the youth (in both the formal and informal sectors), addressing climate change concerns, biodiversity preservation, social inclusion and mobilization at a grassroots level, along with increased provision of sexual reproductive health information and services. The representative from the Caribbean region echoed aforementioned sentiments, but also added that entrepreneurship, good governance, and social protection (due to climbing crime levels) should additionally be prioritized. The AIMS perspective reinforced previously mentioned priorities, and further added that private sector and civil society engagement, access to food, water and energy security, access to quality education, and IT connectivity should be issues that garner significant amounts of focus and political buy-in.  

After having taken the floor and presented the audience with their own thoughts on priorities for their respective regions, the panel of youth representatives in turn asked Mr. Hongbo his thoughts on the political priorities of the SIDS youth within the post-2015 Sustainable Development agenda. Many of Mr. Hongbo’s statements seemed to echo those of the youth delegates; with the conference Secretary-General emphasizing quality education, issues relating to health, strengthening active citizenship, increasing respect for cultural diversity, entrepreneurship, and innovation as key priorities within the youth constituency. Further, Mr. Hongbo urged the youth to send delegations to the Pre-Conference Youth Forum in the lead up to Samoa 2014, to make suggestions regarding the conference through the UN DESA website, and to register youth partnership projects with the Conference Secretariat.

Deliberations regarding the way forward, and action plans for youth engagement in Apia 2014

In closing statements, youth representatives articulated a support for the youth involvement in the SIDS conference, but also emphasized that the youth should be further prioritized; being the principal “guardians” of the future of Sustainable Development, and having such a large stake in (but minimal agency in deciding) the outcomes of current Sustainable Development negotiations. On the whole, the interactive forum between the youth constituency, and the UN SIDS Conference Secretariat for the upcoming global conference served as an effective platform for communication, best-practice sharing, and forward-thinking in preparations for future negotiations. Indeed, growing consensus seems to be shared across the UN system that partnerships, inclusive decision-making, and multi-stakeholder engagement will be needed in the successful formulation and implementation of a truly transformative Sustainable Development agenda for the next fifteen years. Engaging the youth perspective, and empowering their voice within these political processes, will be key to the success of such aspirations.

Check out IFAD's engagement in Small Island Developing States

Households at the heart of change

Posted by Christopher Neglia 0 comments

By: Soma Chakrabarti

In the International Year of Family Farming, we have been looking beyond communities and putting households at the heart of change. Last week in Malawi a workshop  showed community outreach workers from government and civil society how to use ‘household methodologies’ to improve the lives of all members of rural households, which includes improving their ability to cope with  climate change.

The household methodologies approach is  an exciting perspective that attempts to tackle the ‘black box’ of intra-household dynamics. With support from the Government of Japan, IFAD has been pioneering this approach with impressive results. At its  heart is an effort to better understand the different roles of women and men, girls and boys in the household, and support a move beyond limiting gender stereotypes to achieve household goals. The use of drawing and images means that literacy is no obstacle to full ownership by all household members.

Workshop participants explored the intersectionality of gender and climate change issues at the household level and got to know practical tools to support their work.   “I would like to link Household Methodologies to climate change resilience issues,” said Frieda Kayuni, Deputy Director of Agricultural Gender Roles and Support Services (AGRESS) in the Ministry of Agriculture.



The first three days focused on sharing the benefits, experiences and key tools of household methodologies, and climate change ‘teasers’ were shared throughout. Next, a ‘Climate Change and Gender Game’, originally developed by the Red Cross brought gender differences in attitudes toward risks and trade-offs into sharp contrast, and hinted at the implications of gender gaps in building household and community resilience.  After the cries, frustrations and excitement had died down, the individual household winner emerged as male and participants noted that the winning village had a very high proportion of women prompting discussions about why this was so. 

One of the key findings from the game was that ‘women-headed households’ tended to favour community resilience strategies alongside individual household ones.  Participants also agreed that if women had equal access to resources, as well as a greater voice they would not only be less vulnerable to climate-related shocks but could also make useful contributions to improving community resilience. 

A field visit to Chikwawa District gave participants insights into the differentiated experiences of household members living with climate change and their current coping strategies.  This experience was consolidated with a review of possible questions that frontline extension workers could use at each stage of the household approach to help households move from ‘coping strategies’ to building their longer-term ‘adaptive capacities’.  Key resources were also presented, such as an FAO/CCAFS training guide to field research with a gender and climate and CARE’s Capacities and Vulnerabilities Framework, as well as OXFAM’s recent publication on climate change and Malawi  - alongside relevant national policies. One of the participants’ main ‘take-home’ messages was the link between climate change and gender at the household level.

What people are saying…

"We would like to integrate Household Methodologies with a climate and gender lens in our Community Development and Social Work Programme  curricula at Magomero College. The College Trains about 150 community development workers every year, recruited from Government (80%) and NGOs (20%). Graduates work at the community level and are the Government contact persons for community initiatives to improve livelihoods through a range of approaches." Ronald Phiri, Acting Director of Community Development.


“We can’t think of nutrition and food security without thinking about climate change.”  Prince Shaibu, Agricultural Gender Roles Extension Support Services Officer, Nsanje District.

IFAD expects to launch a new project in Malawi, building on the Irrigation, Rural Livelihoods and Development Project (IRLADP) and incorporating a climate focus with the support of ASAP (Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme).

Women’s dietary adequacy

Posted by Roxanna Samii Friday, July 25, 2014 0 comments

by Marian Amaka Odenigbo 

On 15 and 16 July 2014, FAO/USAID/FANTA organized a meeting on the global dietary diversity indicator for assessing the micronutrient adequacy of women’s diets in Washington DC, USA. IFAD was among the development agencies present at this meeting. Participants were challenged to reach a consensus on a global indicator for assessing women's dietary adequacy based on the Women’s Dietary Diversity Project (WDDP-II) draft report. The diets of resource-poor population are very monotonous, dominated by starchy staples which fail to meet micronutrients needs. Women of reproductive age are among the nutritionally vulnerable groups and their poor micronutrient intake  harm not only themselves, but also their children.

WDDP is designed to respond to the need for a simple global indicator of women’s diet quality with specific focus on micronutrient adequacy. WDDP uses existing datasets from women’s dietary intake in resource-poor settings. It analyses the relationship between dietary diversity and micronutrient adequacy and serves as a proxy for the micronutrient adequacy of women’s diets.

The first phase of WDDP-I resulted in  a candidate indicator of 9-food group which was adopted in several FAO-supported programmes. However, this 9-food group indicator was not adopted for use on a more global basis due to the preference to use a  dichotomous indicator. Dichotomous indicator relies on cut-offs for the choice of positive and negative options.  Based on this, FAO initiated the follow-on project (WDDP II) to address the need for a dichotomous women’s dietary diversity indicator. On completion of WDDPII, two candidate indicators were selected: (i) 9-food group (FGI-9R); and (ii) 10-food group (FGI-10R).
During the course of the two-day meeting,  participants engaged in extensive discussions on the uses, merits and limitations of each candidate indicator. As a result, the participants reach an agreement to adopt  dichotomous indicator with a cut off of ≥5 food groups. Finally, a consensus was reached with a unanimous vote for FGI-10R. In regards to operationalization and communication of the selected FGI-10R indicator, FAO will be issuing recommendations and guidelines.

IFAD is one of the potential future users of this indicator for tracking and assessing progress from agriculture interventions to dietary diversity. The FAO recommendations and guidelines on this indicator will support the operationalization of IFAD’s revised results and impact management system (RIMS) that is currently under development which includes measurement of dietary diversity. Assessing the progress in women's dietary adequacy is relevant in IFAD-supported operations for food and nutrition security because it  will enhance IFAD’s commitment to women's empowerment and particularly the nutrition contribution to smallholder female farmers in the resource-poor settings.

Read more: Interested in finding out more on this topic, please consult Dietary Diversity as a Measure of the Micronutrient Adequacy of Women’s Diets in Resource-Poor Areas


Hakizamungu shows off one of the completed water tanks. 
The Kirehe Community-based Watershed Management Project (KWAMP) supports community innovations and sharing of information through community competitions, called ‘Inteko y’Imihigo'. Different village committees come up with Natural Resources Management Plans and the cooperatives present business proposals that address their most pressing need for funding. The case study on these community competitions by IFADAfrica shows that they are a very good example of south-south and grass root knowledge exchange. In Kirehe District, there are amazing results of the practice.
Cyanika village won the Inteko y’Imihigo in 2013 with their proposal for improvised water storage tanks or ‘water baskets’, called agaseke in Kinyarwanda. The tanks are made by digging a ditch in the ground, laying it with a water retention plastic sheet, and then constructing a small ‘house-like’ structure over it above the ground using locally made bricks, mud and wattle. The structure is covered with iron sheets, through which a gutter pipe linked to the main house will feed water into the tank during the rainy season, where it is kept for use during the dry season.

A completed water tank, waiting to be filled when it rains.
The challenge facing Cyanika village is that for people living on the hillsides and hill tops, far from the small streams, rivers and marshlands in the valleys, the soils turn hard and crusty during the dry season. And during raining seasons, the heavy down pours destroy dwellings. This makes it difficult for families to have vegetables and fruits, causing most of the children to suffer from malnutrition and other related ailments. One of the village members, Hakizamungu  Etienne, had visited the village of Gatore and found that farmers used to harvest water during the rainy season and use it to maintain their kitchen gardens during the dry season.

Hakizamungu brought the idea to Cyanika and they put it in their ‘Inteko  y’Imihigo’. They proposed to make 30 tanks to cater for the 90 households in the village at the time, with at least 3 households sharing a tank. By May 2014, they had constructed 15 tanks.

We hope to finish the rest of the tanks before the rains come. As you can see, we already started doing the kitchen gardens to improve our diet. We need water to keep the vegetables growing and fresh," says Hakizamungu
During the dry season, the water will be fetched out and used to irrigate the kitchen gardens around the homestead, as well as for other domestic purposes. This is yet another ‘water for agriculture’ innovation in Kirehe, under KWAMP.  
Our future plan is that the households hosting the water tank will work with their neighbours and support them to put up other tanks. In the end, we hope that each household will have its own water tank, says Hakizamungu Edward, the leader of the Inteko y'imihigo in Cyanika

The main focus is to ensure that rural smallscale farmers have continuous access to proper nutrition as they are able to boost their diet with fruits and vegetables, as well as milk from the ‘one cow per household’ (Girinka) programme in Rwanda.

One of the cows from the Girinka project at a household in Cyanika.

Leveraging agriculture for nutrition

Posted by Roxanna Samii Sunday, July 20, 2014 1 comments

by Marian Amaka Odenigbo and Karima Cherif

Photo by Karima Cherif

On 11 June  to 5 July 2014  we participated in the supervision and implementation support mission for IFAD-funded projects and programmes in Malawi and Zambia.

Over the last years, IFAD is focusing more on nutrition sensitive interventions and as a nutrition specialist, my role is to make sure IFAD-funded programmes are nutrition-sensitive.

In reviewing IFAD-funded programmes and projects, we are retrofitting ongoing investment activities to make sure they are nutrition sensitive, while making sure that  newly designed and upcoming interventions are nutrition sensitive.

To this end, we’ve made sure that the project staff and supervision team are sensitized on nutrition-sensitive agriculture.

In the case of Rural Livelihoods and Economic Enhancement Programme (RLEEP) one of the on-going projects in Malawi, we identified activities supporting nutrition-sensitive interventions. The programme is commended for its preventive measure on aflatoxin control in groundnut. Aflatoxins are  toxic produced by fungi on crops like groundnut and maize.

Groundnut is one of the value chain commodities of this programme and the intervention activities included the distribution of an energy and time saving hand sheller to prevent aflatoxin. This technology is helping to reduce workload of women farmers, thus allowing them more time to provide care giving and to contribute to making sure the family benefits from a sound nutritious diet.

To further improve the nutrition of the target group, the supervision team recommendations included strengthening and extending the awareness building campaign of aflatoxin impact on markets, to health and nutrition. This recommendation helps preventing the adverse impact on beneficiaries considering that the chronic exposure and regular intake of aflatoxin contaminated food and livestock feeds bring about chronic malnutrition.

We’re pleased to hear from beneficiaries how the integrated nutrition value chain (INVC)  training supported by USAID in partnership with the farmers Union of Malawi had helped the Nkhunguyembe Cooperative in ,Mchinji district to improve their dietary intake. This training had informed the beneficiaries on diverse food preparation and nutritious recipe formulation.

The mission commended this complementary activity as an opportunity for RLEEP to support value added product development such as plumpy nut to address the critical state of undernutrition in project location.

Multi-sectoral collaboration

In view of adopting the multi-sectoral strategy in addressing the various determinant of malnutrition, IFAD’s country office in Zambia is harmonizing its operations with the government and other development partners to support the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) initiative.

In Zambia, UN agencies have identified nutrition as a ‘signature area’ for the UN delivering as one given the government of Republic of Zambia (GRZ) commitment to SUN and its pledge to strengthen efforts to fight the critical state of undernutrition.

IFAD is an active member of the UN Technical Working Group (TWG) on Nutrition established to improve the multi-sectoral governance and multi-stakeholder nutrition actions towards nutrition challenges.

The UN team on the ground - FAO, IFAD, ILO, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNHCR, WFP, WHO, UNAIDS, IOM, UNESCO -  have developed a letter of understanding which serves as a guide on roles and responsibilities of the various agencies vis-a-vis  nutrition interventions.

IFAD commitment as an active player in this joint UN initiative includes:

  • support to nutrition sensitive agriculture with focus on gender equality and women empowerment in addressing under nutrition during the first 1000 most critical days of life. 
  • focusing on diverse food production to ensure sustainable and adequate food access and consumption while addressing nutrition challenges.

  • support to nutritional outcomes of the major global food producers by supporting smallholder farmers through irrigation development and integrated homestead food production (IHFP). The programs on irrigation development and IHFP facilitate diversified dietary intake and generate income for improved livelihood.
  • focus on rural poor people, indigenous and marginalized population to promote and explore the nutritional potentials of local and neglected food varieties.

In Malawi, IFAD has engaged with the UN nutrition team for possible collaboration in its operations at various districts. For example UNICEF has a structure system for training of trainers and sensitization on nutrition. This presents an opportunity to collaborate with UNICEF to strengthen nutrition capacity of extension workers/ development agents at district levels in facilitating nutrition-sensitive agriculture interventions.

Malawi IFAD country office brings IFAD’s comparative advantages for engagement in the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) as a participating UN Organizations supporting the implementation of the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) II.

by  Marian Amaka Odenigbo and  Wiseman Kanyika

Irrigated agriculture for food and nutrition security
The vast majority of smallholder farmers in Malawi are food insecure and dependent on rain-fed agriculture. To respond to this challenge, IFAD in partnership with the World Bank is supporting the government of Malawi to rehabilitate and construct irrigation schemes to address the challenges of low productivity and increase profitability of Malawi’s agriculture sector.

One of the SRI Fields at
Nkhate Irrigation
Scheme-ChikwawaIFAD/IRLADP
Malawi’s agriculture sector relies primarily on maize and relies on mono-cropping practices resulting in  underemployment during the dry season.  Low production and productivity and lack of diversification in farming systems has led to persistent food insecurity, poor dietary intake, poverty and undernutrition.

IFAD funded irrigation systems in Malawi have helped farmers to adopt improved technologies such as irrigation farming, crop diversification and use of improved seeds and fertilizers. This has led to an increase in household income and improved access to different food varieties leading to a diversified diet.

Irrigation, Rural Livelihoods and Agricultural Development Programme (IRLADP)
An independent impact assessment survey assessed that the IFAD-funded Rural Livelihoods and Agricultural Development Project (IRLADP) had positive impact on the lives of beneficiaries and reduced the proportion of poor households by 21%, increased agricultural productivity by 68% and improved household incomes by 50%.

The survey observed that 37% of the income was spent on food thus contributing to the wellbeing of previously food insecure and poor households.

System of Rice Intensification (SRI)  – Growing more with less
The Systems of Rice Intensification (SRI) is an innovative agricultural practice to improve food sufficiency at household level and respond to the growing demand for food and the ever increasing scarcity of natural resources such as land and water.

In Malawi, SRI is being championed by the IFAD-funded Irrigation Rural Livelihoods and Agricultural Development (IRLAD) Project. The IRLAD project trained over 5,000 farmers in irrigation schemes to adopt SRI technology as a way of ensuring optimum utilization of the irrigation schemes and improve yield using less farm inputs.

According to rice farmers who have adopted the SRI technology, there are six principles that the farmers must follow for SRI to be successful. The principles include:

Maggie Chisi (practicing use of conoweeder in India), a
farmer at Limphasa Irrigation Scheme in Nkhatabay is
one of the farmers who are implementing SRI at the
scheme.IFAD/IRLADP
  • transplanting rice seedlings at a much younger age
  • plant single seedling per hill instead of a handful of seedlings at each hill
  • space plants wide apart 
  • plant in a square pattern of (23x23) cm
  • use intermittent water application to create wet and dry soil conditions instead of the conventional continuous flood irrigation
  • use of conno-weeder -  an instrument used for weeding. Conno weeder promotes aeration in the soil as it cuts rice roots which in turn induces the development of new tillers around a particular hill. Farmers who used conoweeders during 2013/2014 rainy season counted 45 to 60 tillers from one seedling instead of 4 to 7 tillers.

“We did not believe that one seedling could produce over 45 to 60 seedlings from a single seedling planted, our friends thought we were going back  at night  to the fields and planting some seedlings”, explained Mr  G.Njala of Likangala Complex irrigation scheme in Zomba and Mr Alhaji Chale of Lifuwu irrigation scheme.

“My friends thought I was crazy when I planted one seedling per hill” says Mrs Chisi, “but when they saw an impressive crop a few days later, they insisted to know the secret behind all this” she explained with pride.
“This season, because of using SRI practices, I expect to harvest  nine bags of 50 kg each on a 0.1 ha plot (4,500 kgs /ha) where previously I used to harvest four bags of 50 kgs each ( 2,500 kgs /ha)”, she said. She further said that with the proceedings from rice sales, she hopes to buy a bicycle so that she can move around more easily and save some money to build a house next year after harvesting and selling her produce.
PRIDE: The way forward
Mr G.Njala of Likangala Complex irrigation
scheme in Zomba and Mr

Alhaji Chale of Lifuwu irrigation schemeIFAD/IRLADP
Considering that increase in income and access to food do not guarantee good nutrition, IRLADP’s  successes will be replicated in the IFAD-funded Programme for Rural Irrigation Development (PRIDE).

The main thrust of PRIDE is to upgrade irrigation schemes to enable smallholder farmers move from low value to high value crops. The implementation of PRIDE aims to improve the livelihood of beneficiaries, get them out of poverty and provide them good nutritional status.

In view of building and scaling-up the IRLADP’s positive impact, PRIDE is committed to address nutrition concerns from design through implementation and the project activities will focus on:

  • ensuring dietary diversity
  • addressing women workload
  • mounting nutrition awareness campaigns 
  • sensitizing on food processing, storage and utilisation
  • collaborating with other development partners for maximizing impact and generating synergies in agriculture for nutrition programs. 

As a nutrition expert, I am confident that a nutrition-sensitive PRIDE will show how sound investment in  agriculture and crop diversification leads to good nutrition.


The Tanzanian project team with beneficiaries in Ethiopia
The Government of Tanzania launched a knowledge sharing exchange for its rural finance team from 23rd – 27th June 2014, to view successes and lessons learned in Ethiopia’s rural financial services project. Tanzania and Ethiopia both have similar historical contexts; transitioning from a heavily socialist regime – the period of the Derg in Ethiopia and President Julius Nyerere’s African socialism based on Ujamma, a Swahili word and concept of development through the people or community – to a more open financial economy. 


In Tanzania, the Marketing Infrastructure, Value Addition and Rural Finance support programme (MIVARF) aims to enhance the incomes and food security of the rural poor by increasing access to financial services and markets with an investment of  USD 170 million, to benefit 500,000 households by 2018 – IFAD provides USD 90.6 million of this support. The Rural Financial Intermediation Programme (RUFIP) phase II, is an IFAD USD 248 million investment that aims to improve access of financial services of 6.9 million poor rural households in Ethiopia. The project is developing management information systems and undertaking the capacity building of 31 micro-finance institutions (MFIs), 5,500 rural savings and credit cooperatives (RUSACCOs) and 55 Unions. Both RUFIP and MIVARF work with a significant number of partners in the financial sector, and the Tanzanian project team was aiming to gain experiences from the successful implantation of a similar programme. 

 Shubida Masa Adha at her home in 2007
before she joined OCSSCO MFI
Of particular interest to the Tanzanian project team was RUFIP's coordination with the Central bank and other policy bodies. RUFIP has designed a unique mechanism to disburse the IFAD loan. The project has intentionally disbursed the USD209 million in loans through the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) in line with NBE’s mandate to develop financial services in rural areas, among other things. Engaging the NBE and having a monthly project steering committee meeting has created platforms for feedback and exchange between financial service providers and the NBE. Financial services and products that meet the rural poor’s demands have been developed; the NBE has deregulated lending & deposit rates and MFIs and RUSSACOs have relaxed single borrower limits and loan ceilings have been eased. 


Shubida Masa Adha talks with the MIVRAF team in front of her home 
which was rebuilt using a loan from OCSSCO MFI. 

Shubida Masa Adha has taken loans totaling
Birr700 (USD704) to invest in her petty-trade business,
rebuilding her home and two milking cows.
     The group from Tanzania traveled to Mojo to meet four women who have taken loans from the Oromia Credit and Savings Share Company  (OCSSCO) a MFI supported by the project. "At the community level, there were visible and progressive impacts; both women and men were able to demonstrate how project support has contributed towards increasing their incomes and  investments, moving them out of poverty. MFIs have totally engaged and taken ownership of the project objective because they are innovating financial products to meet rural peoples’ demands. In this case, OCSSCO is supporting individual borrowers, in the same area, to access group loans. It is a huge benefit that the rural poor are now able to access group loans with interest rates as low as 10-12percent with repayment periods up to 5-7 years. The project’s partnership with MFIs is commendable and the development of such affordable credit and loan services is something we can attempt to develop in Tanzania,” Bernard Ulaya, told us.


      Kaleh Saleh, Programme Coordinator for MIVARF in Zanzibar, was impressed at the NBE’s ownership of the programme and the strength of the Association of Ethiopian Microfinance Institutions (AEMFI), an umbrella organization of 31 MFIs formed to promote information exchange and build the capacity of MFIs. “In Tanzania we are operating in a context where policies for the cooperative sector are only just being developed and implemented, hence it is difficult to ensure that cooperatives are being adequately regulated. It has been helpful to see organizations such as AEMFI, that are well-structured and managed with a leadership with clear responsibilities, and the Federal Cooperative Union that has taken on the significant responsibility of transforming the cooperative sector to take on the provision of financial services, a role that is distinguished from producer cooperatives. We can definitely learn and adopt what has worked; particularly as we are currently supporting the Government of Tanzania to strengthen a newly formed commission that will regulate and strengthen cooperatives,” said Saleh. Since a new Cooperative Act was adopted in Tanzania in 2003, MIVRAF is training cooperative development officers and guiding the development of supervision and regulatory structures.

     The Tanzania team had the opportunity to interact with the, IFAD Representative and Country Director in Ethiopia, Robson Mutandi. The Tanzanian project team learned about the broader Country Programme framework and approach in Ethiopia that revolves around three pillars; rural finance, small holder irrigation development and pastoral community development. With these areas of focus, access to financial is key to the overall country programme and the financial inclusion agenda. 
    

The MIVARF team speaks with Melkamu Dame, Team leader of
operations of OSCCO at a branch office in Debrezeit
b  Overall, the Tanzania team was impressed and the team noted that the visit provided them some practical examples of how the financial sector can take a lead role in the implementation of project objectives. The Tanzanian team also noted that there is a future opportunity for RUFIP II to address its monitoring and evaluation, and data collection challenges by learning from the Tanzania MIVARF and a similar rural finance project in Zambia. It is hoped that such exchanges will be encouraged within ESA and between projects that have similar objectives as one of the avenues towards improved project performance. The team looks forward to incorporating such best practices and lessons learned especially using the opportunity to catalyze the financial sector with a project supported credit line and strengthen capacity building activities during the upcoming mid-term review due in August this year. 

Revolutionizing agricultural financing in ACP Countries

Posted by Betty Tole Friday, July 11, 2014 0 comments

A game changing conference attracting over 600 delegates including farmers, farmer organizations, traders, bankers, financial institutions, governments, and government agencies, from the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries are meeting in Nairobi, Kenya from 14 to 18 July 2014 to discuss ways of developing a modern and high-performing agricultural financing system that will enable agriculture serve the increasing demands of the urban and global markets. The President of Kenya, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta is scheduled to officially open the conference.  Several African Agriculture and Finance Ministers, as well as Central Bank Governors are also expected to attend.

The meeting is organized by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA), the African Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (AFRACA), the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) and the Kenya School of Monetary Studies (KSMS). Other international organizations, including IFAD, are sponsoring the event.

The Fin4Ag conference will provide a platform for participants to learn about the various tools and initiatives that facilitate successful smallholder-inclusive agri-value chain finance. The conference will focus on the existing working models of agri-value chain finance that enhance food security as well as job, and wealth creation, along with the policy frameworks that support these initiatives.  Central Bank governors will share on what they can do to create an enabling environment for such agricultural financing.  

The conference will also showcase a range of new developments in ICT that aid access to secure financial transactions.  Sixteen digital platforms have confirmed participation on Plug and Play Day, or Day Zero of the conference on 14 July 2014. The event will demonstrate technologies supporting access to credit, payments, savings, and insurance and risk management for value chain actors.  For ICT innovators, this will be a unique opportunity to gain a broader perspective of finance ICTs, while users will have a chance to discover the latest ICT platforms for value chain finance available in the market.

The Plug and Play Day is organized as a precursor to the main conference. The opening ceremony will take place on 15 July 2014.  Various sessions have been organized from the 15 – 17 July 2014, with field trips planned on the last day of the conference to different areas where examples of transformation in agricultural finance will be showcased.

AFRACA, a grant recipient of several IFAD grants, and co-organizer of the conference, will host two sessions: one discussing the issues, and ways of enhancing financing of intra-African food trade, and the second one on strategies for financing agricultural mechanization. The Nairobi-based IFAD Regional Grant, Rural Finance Knowledge Management Partnership (KMP), that has also been extensively involved in the organization of the conference, will also host two sessions: Capacity building: what is missing in agri-value chain finance training and how to fill the gaps; and Information, communication and knowledge management in value chain financing: lessons learnt. In addition KMP organized the documentation of all the field visits that complement the plenary discussions for the delegates attending the conference.

Also participating in the conference is a vibrant group of on-site social reporters drawn from across Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific regions who will be updating social sites on the happenings in the conference. To follow conference proceedings, the website is http://fin4ag.org. For Twitter users, use #Fin4Ag14.

by Abdelhaq Hanafi

Some 33 million people are estimated to be poor in Egypt, more than half of whom reside in rural areas whose main source of income and employment is derived from agriculture. A key sector in the Egyptian economy, agriculture provides livelihoods to 55% of the population, and directly employs about 30% of the labour force.



© IFAD/Marco Salustro
Sabah Hassan Aldin joins in the wheat
threshing activities in Soliman village,
West Noubaria
Against this background, the current laws are crucial in enhancing the potential of the agricultural sector, like the law regulating cooperative systems. In a recent meeting with the Minister for Agriculture and Land Reclamation (MALR) of Egypt, IFAD learned that MALR made a proposal for changes in the law and reforms within Agricultural Cooperatives. The proposed changes to the current cooperative system seek to strengthen the institutional structures, enhance the governance of the cooperatives, and establish a special subsidiary body including an election board charged with overseeing board elections.

During this meeting, Dr Adel El-Biltagy, the newly-appointed Minister of MALR recognized IFAD’s significant role in contributing to the reduction of rural poverty and enhancement of national food security in Egypt. Special mention was made with regards to state-of-the art technologies suited to Egypt’s context as well as research-related support providing right access to information. IFAD’s comparative advantage lies in continuing to work closely for and with smallholder farmers and rural entrepreneurs and their organizations in rural areas.




©IFAD/Taysir Al Ghanem
In West Noubaria, Heinz provides
farmers with seed and buys
their tomatoes at an agreed price
The Country Programme Manager for Egypt presented the findings of the design mission for the new IFAD-funded project in Egypt, entitled Sustainable Agriculture Investments and Livelihoods (SAIL).  The SAIL project is building on successes of the ongoing West Noubaria Rural Development Project, which has promoted settlement in lands reclaimed from the desert as well as the establishment of farmer marketing associations, and thus, for the first time made small farmers an attractive proposition for large exporters and processors in Europe and the Middle East. The new SAIL project is expected to reach some 280,000 people in the new settlements (in Lower, Middle and Upper Egypt) as well as provide support to the adjoining secondary areas related to the provision of social and economic services, especially for young people. The total project cost is estimated at approximately USD 90 million, of which USD 69.6 million will be financed by IFAD.


© IFAD/Marco Salustro
West Noubaria, sprinkler irrigation
on a forage field.
From 1980, IFAD has invested in eleven projects in Egypt valued at US$659.4 million (including 337 million in IFAD financing). Of these, seven have closed and four are ongoing. IFAD’s programme in Egypt has comprised two main themes and groups of activities: support for settlement in the new lands in Lower (northern) Egypt and support for productivity improvement in the old lands in the Nile valley and Upper Egypt.





Funding through the Global Environment Facility is being explored with the Ministry of Environment of Egypt for an estimated value of US$ 7.5 million. In addition,  the Saudi Fund for Development has expressed an interest in granting an estimated US$ 20 million for the projects that focus on the use of small-scale renewable, solar energy.


29 June 2014 marked the 10-year Anniversary of the entry-into-force of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA). To celebrate the event, the Secretariat of the International Treaty and the FAO Office in Geneva organized a high-level celebration on 3 July 2014, in the United Nations Office in Geneva. This meeting was attended by Ministers, Ambassadors, international institutions, as well as civil society and private sector representatives. The celebration focused on the Treaty as an instrument to assist low-income food-deficient countries through the support of their farming and local communities, reviewing the political and technical results achieved, and designing a future trajectory for the Treaty’s work.

The event was organized around an interactive panel discussion, featuring several high-level speakers. These included:

·         Dr Graziano da Silva, Director-General of FAO (video), reiterated FAO's support to the International Treaty, including as host of its Secretariat.

·         HE Mr Abdullah Nasser Al-Rahbi, Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva and Consul General (Oman), reminded us of the importance of the Muscat Ministerial Declaration, highlighted the need to work together to help meet the challenges of water scarcity and drought, find ways to increase food security, alleviate extreme poverty and counter the effects of climate change on the production of key food crops in the Near East and North Africa (NENA) Region.

·        Dr Shakeel Bhatti, Secretary of the International Treaty, reminded us of the important role of plant genetic resources for adapting agriculture to changing climatic conditions and for food security, including as material for breeding, biotechnologies, etc.

·         Mr Matthew Worrell, Chairperson of the Governing Body of the International Treaty, highlighted some of the important achievements of the International Treaty, including of its Multilateral System (MLS), Standard Material Transfer Agreements,  and the projects funded under the Benefit Sharing Fund.

·         Dr Agung Hendriadi, Director of the Indonesian Center for Agricultural Technology Assessment, proudly reminded us that Indonesia was the first developing country to provide funding to the International Treaty, and he hopes that this will serve to set the example to other developing countries as well, considering that the MLS requires strong commitment and support

·         Mr Oliver Allen, the First Counselor of the Delegation of the European Union to the UN and other international organizations in Geneva, highlighted that the EU was the major funder of the International Treaty, together with Norway, having contributed EUR 5 million. The EU considers the work of the International Treaty as fundamental for development, and in particular for smallholder farmers who are most dependent on agro-biodiversity.

·         Dr Silvana Maselli, Researcher and Professor of the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, presented the results achieved in Guatemala through a project under the Benefit Sharing Fund, where 1340 families from poor marginal communities in Guatemala were supported in establishing community seed banks and capacity building - on a range of themes including farmers' rights, seed management and storage, group formation, climate change adaptation, etc.

·         Dr Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the CBD, highlighted the collaboration between the Secretariats of the International Treaty and the CBD, guided by a framework for collaboration. He reminded us of the importance of the Aichi targets and the Nagoya Protocol .

·         Mr Gagan Khurana, Head of Country Operations and Partnerships, Grow Africa Partnership of the World Economic Forum, emphasised the importance of involving the private sector - specifically referring to Public Private People Partnership (PPPP) - to ensure that innovative technologies developed benefit smallholder farmers

·        Ms Rima Alcadi, Grants Portfolio Adviser IFAD, highlighted the relevance of biodiversity to rural poverty reduction, IFAD's experience in managing projects/programmes related to the sustainable utilisation and conservation of biodiversity and the advantages of working with International Treaty.

·         Dr Pedro Braga Arcuri, representative of EMBRAPA in Europe, reminded us that the Treaty requires reliable, regular flow of funds. He highlighted the important role of neglected and underutilised species (NUS) for food and nutrition security and climate change adaptation and told us that EMBRAPA is intending to propose to the UN an International Year on NUS.

·         Mr Guy Kastler, smallholder farmer representing La via Campesina, told us that smallholder farmers like him are fond of the International Treaty, as it recognises farmers' rights and because they are aware that these resources are increasingly important for climate change adaptation. He also highlighted that local landraces have a higher capacity to adapt to climate change, compared to PGR stored ex situ. He would like the International Treaty to further work on and develop Access and Benefit Sharing mechanisms.

·         Ms Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD (video), declared that the UNCCD Secretariat wishes to further strengthen the partnership with the International Treaty - especially as there are significant areas of overlap between productive land and biodiversity.

·         Ms Marie Haga, Executive Director at The Global Crop Diversity Trust, underscored that no country is self-sufficient when it comes to plant genetic resources. For example, cassava is vital to the economy of Nigeria as it is the world's largest producer of the commodity. However Nigeria, has barely 12% of the cassava PGR, whereas Brazil, that ranks the commodity 18th in terms of importance to its economy, has 25% of the PGR, as it is the centre of origin of cassava.  She also underlined the various ways in which The Global Crop Diversity Trust and the Secretariat of the International Treaty, including via a new initiative (to be launched soon!) called DivSeek - child of a 10 year project on crop wild relatives.

·         Mr Garlich von Essen, Secretary General of the European Seed Association, gave some suggestions on how to improve the financial sustainability of the International Treaty and its MLS. He said that the private sector, and breeders in especially, are very grateful to the work of the International Treaty - particularly as a tremendous effort was made to ensure that all major stakeholders were involved in negotiating the text and that it focuses on PGR for food and agriculture. This has improved mutual understanding and relevance of the Treaty.


The text of the statement delivered by IFAD is copied below.
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Excellencies,
Respected colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to be here on behalf of IFAD, the International Fund for Agricultural Development. I thank you for the invitation to celebrate this important event with you. We, at IFAD, attach great importance to biodiversity as a key development resource and to the work of the International Treaty.
IFAD is a specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to alleviating rural poverty in developing countries. Our starting point, therefore, is to ask ourselves: “What is the nexus between rural poverty reduction and biodiversity?
As we celebrate this 10th Anniversary of the coming into force of the International Treaty, let us recognise that a decade ago, this question would not have been so obvious to answer. Now, also thanks to the work of the International Treaty, the connection between biodiversity and rural poverty reduction is very clear. Globally, there are 1.2 billion people who live on less than US$1.25 a day, and 70 % of them are in rural areas and rely directly on ecosystems for food, water, fiber and fuel. Any change in biodiversity patterns will first and foremost affect the viability of rural survival.
Let me now turn to “What IFAD has done in this area.”
We did an analysis to identify the degree of involvement of IFAD in addressing the nexus between rural poverty and biodiversity. The analysis was based on IFAD-funded grants and loans.
We found that 54 grants, for a total value of over USD 50 million, referred explicitly to biodiversity. Prominent partners included: Governments, CGIAR centres such as Bioversity International, ICRAF and CIAT, FAO, Oxfam, icipe, CSOs, and others.
In terms of loans, 48 IFAD-funded investment projects, representing cumulatively over half a billion dollars, relate to biodiversity. Recently, we have supported government-led investment projects in Bolivia, China, Djibouti, Ecuador, Kenya, Laos and The Philippines.
What did we learn?
We learnt that farmers care about their biodiversity. Farmers are already voluntarily maintaining biodiversity on their farms. There are good reasons for doing so, including: (1) for risk management, to maximise stability against drought or pests and diseases; (2) for diversity of uses, including for different recipes; (3) in order to optimise factors of production, for example to balance labour, water or other input requirements such as fuel wood necessary for cooking; and (4) to smooth out irregular cash flow and food availability and access to cover the hunger season and address nutritional needs, for example by growing varieties with different maturities and nutritional values.
We have noted the important role of cultural biodiversity too – for example, knowledge of medicinal plants or indigenous crops suited to the local climate - and we found that local knowledge about biodiversity differs between women and men.
IFAD firmly believes in conservation through sustainable utilization. We appreciate the value of biodiversity most when we can use it. We have also long recognized that poor rural people are important custodians of biodiversity and have found ingenious ways of conserving and utilizing it – for instance through sacred groves and community seed fairs. IFAD was the first UN agency to promote Neglected and Underutilized Species – also known as promising crops for the future. These crops are produced and consumed locally and are therefore easily accessible to people in rural areas, where the largest proportion of malnourished people live. The promotion and commercialization of these products have important positive effects on incomes, food security, nutrition, health, local cultural identity and self-esteem – as well as conserving agro-biodiversity.
At IFAD, we firmly believe in the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships to improve the adaptability and adoptability of technologies co-generated by researchers, civil society and farmers alike. That is why we invest in participatory technology development.
This brings me to our partnership with the Benefit-Sharing Fund of the International Treaty. As you know, the Benefit-sharing Fund is a mechanism to prioritize the conservation and use of biodiversity in addressing poverty reduction. IFAD supported the Benefit Sharing Fund, through the initiative “Leading the Field.” In identifying which of the projects IFAD would support, an important criterion was relevance to poverty reduction within the IFAD country programmes. This criterion was applied not only to help strengthen the ongoing IFAD-funded projects in the country, but also to enhance the potential for scaling up and broadening our national partnership base.
Besides the funding provided to the projects under the Benefit Sharing Fund, we found that the International Treaty plays a fundamental role in influencing policy-makers at the international level. We believe that from a practical stance, inviting CSOs and NGOs to the discussions helps ensure that what is ratified at the international level, is then implemented locally – especially with regard to farmers’ rights.
Through the various high-level events organized by the Secretariat of the International Treaty, the latter has played the role of a knowledge broker. Henry Ford once said “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” It is reassuring to note how effective the Secretariat has been in establishing a broad base of strong partners who are effectively working together. Moreover, we in IFAD were pleased to note that the International Treaty is increasingly ensuring that farmers will be directly involved in almost all aspects of the work.
To conclude, let us recognise that people who live below the poverty line are wealthy when it comes to biodiversity and culture. We must support initiatives that celebrate and reward these rural communities for conserving this enormous wealth for us all. IFAD is an IFI firmly dedicated to rural poverty reduction. Our support to the International Treaty is also meant to signal to you, distinguished delegates, that this is an important initiative when it comes to sustainable rural development. Our funding alone , however, is insufficient - but we hope it can serve to catalyse additional support from other donors.
At this point, on behalf of IFAD, I wish the International Treaty a happy 10 year anniversary. It is a young treaty, but as the saying goes, it's not the years in your life that count but the life in your years - and with its 131 contracting parties, there's certainly much life to celebrate.
Thank you!