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Unraveling land indicators

Posted by Roxanna Samii Thursday, February 27, 2014 0 comments

by Harold Liversage, the regional land advisor and Steven Jonckheere,  land and natural resources associate for IFAD in East and Southern Africa

Land is fundamental to the lives of poor rural people. It is a source of food, shelter, income and social identity. Secure access to land reduces vulnerability to hunger and poverty. But for many of the world’s poor rural people in developing countries, access is becoming more tenuous than ever. IFAD, FAO, UN-HABITAT, the International Land Coalition Secretariat, the Global Land Tools Network Secretariat and OXFAM co-organised a Workshop on Land Indicators on 21-22 February in Rome. The workshop is part of an on-going consultation to identify a set of indicators to monitor progress in land governance. The event brought together a range of stakeholders from governments, farmers’ organizations, civil society, multilateral organizations and institutions interested in food security and land issues. The need for common land indicators is greater than ever because of the monitoring demands have been, or will be, created by the post-2015 agenda, the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance on Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGTs) and the Framework and Guidelines on land policy in Africa (F&GLPA). There is also demand for common frameworks for project monitoring and evaluation.

Global Land Indicator Initiative
The Global Land Indicator Initiative (GLII) was established in 2012 with the aim to support efforts to harmonize monitoring efforts around land tenure and governance. GLII seeks to derive a list of globally comparable harmonized land indicators, using existing monitoring mechanisms and data collection methods as a foundation. The Initiative is supporting global and regional frameworks such as the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance on Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGTs), agreed by 193 Member States and supported by civil society on the one hand, and the Framework and Guidelines (F&G) on land policy in Africa, a joint initiative of the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa on the other. The Initiative intends to foster partnership, inclusiveness, consultation, evidence-based indicators, people–centred approach and sustainability.
In September 2012, UN-Habitat, the World Bank and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), met in Naples, Italy, to discuss how to advance the harmonization of global land indicators through a multi-stakeholder consultative process. Since then two other meetings have been organised on land indicators, one in April 2013 in Washington and another in November 2013 in The Hague, with an increasing number of participating organisations.

Concerns have been raised that the voices of civil society have not been coming out very strongly. This workshop has succeeded in broadening the participation in this initiative with a strong representation from farmers’ associations  (such as Asian Farmers’ Association, East African Farmers’ Federation and the Network of Farmers' and Agricultural Producers' Organisations of West Africa), large networks such as the FoodFirst Information and Action Network (FIAN), the International Planning Committee for Food Security (IPC) and Civil Society Mechanism (CSM) of the Committee on Food Security (CFS).

Post-2015 agenda/Sustainable Development Goals
Some of the participants are involved in the wider process of developing and negotiating the post-2015 agenda/Sustainable Development Goals. Indeed, it is important that momentum is maintained to ensure the inclusion of land-related targets and indicators in the final framework. Measurability is one factor that will be taken into account in finalizing the targets and indicators. Going forward, the post-2015 process to agree goals and targets will be mainly focused on intergovernmental negotiations, with the selection of the indicators also being a high-level process in which UN and other multilateral agencies will play a key role. High-level lobbying therefore needs to be taken forward by different stakeholders: intergovernmental partners, civil society organisations and supportive government representatives. Workshop participants agreed to support this process by providing key messages on why the land indicators and the targets they relate to are important, by showing that they enjoy wide support, and by showing that there are feasible mechanisms for assessment. IFAD has assigned strategic priority to participating in the global dialogue on the post-2015 development framework and will focus on four themes: i) Leveraging the rural-urban nexus for development; ii) An empowerment agenda for rural livelihoods; iii) Investing in smallholder family agriculture; and, iv) promoting resilience of poor rural households. Security of rural people’s tenure over land, property and other natural resources is the first cross cutting target area relevant for all the themes.

Harmonizing indicators for regional, national, sub-national and project monitoring
The initiative seeks to address these other harmonization demands in parallel. The VGGT and F&GLPA provide benchmarks and create an opportunity for governments and other actors to track and monitor progress. Indicators are relevant to monitoring and tracking of the VGGT and F&G. Monitoring strategies for the VGGT and F&GLPA need to be developed through a very inclusive process of stakeholder involvement, and for that reason should be seen as a longer-term process. CFS will monitor the implementation of the VGGT and is a globally legitimate arena in which to expand the discussion on indicators. The participation in this workshop of HE Gerda Verburg (Chair of CFS) and HE Robert Saabiti (Uganda’s Permanent Representative to the Rome-based agencies and sitting on the CFS Bureau representing the Africa Region) has therefore been very important.

The harmonization of project monitoring indicators is also something that can be advanced in parallel. A number of different multilateral and bilateral donors support tenure and land governance-related projects and programs and employ indicator frameworks to monitor these. A key concern in such monitoring is to evaluate how projects and programs contribute to the implementation of global and regional goals and guidelines. Project monitoring can contribute to the collection of data on common global indicators so the relevant stakeholders need to be involved in the development of the latter.

Way forward
There was a general agreement among participants that the post 2015 discussions and the possibility of getting an indicator/set of indicators and possibly even a target on tenure security/access into the SDG framework are a unique opportunity to promote the global land agenda. This can feed into the development of M&E frameworks for tracking progress in implementing the VGGT and F&GLPA. Nevertheless, care must be given to ensure the right indicators and targets are identified which provide an incentive for good land governance. This must be done in a transparent and inclusive manner. All participants committed themselves to contribute to this effort.

Many thanks to everyone involved in making the land indicators workshop a success.

Climate games: how beans means adaptation

Posted by Marjolein van Gelder Wednesday, February 26, 2014 0 comments

The ingredients for a climate game: a few dice, some red stones and  a handful of beans. With these simple tools, the Netherlands Red Cross team gave a great simulation yesterday of the choices smallholders face in a highly uncertain environment. “As climate scientists we realised that only spreading climate change models was not very useful to the people most affected. You need to inform people on what they can do to protect themselves from climate-related disasters. How can they deal with climate risks with incomplete information?” said Maarten van Aalst.

The Red Cross Climate Centre has trainted many development agencies and has even worked with members of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on climate games.

“It was interesting to see how scientists started to calculate risks and tried to include complex calculations in their decision making process” adds van Aalst.

At IFAD’s first ever Global Staff Meeting, it was up to our staff to see if they could adapt to climate change and prevent for the impact of disasters.

How to play? In order to make the game not overly complex, rainfall variability is considered as the only manifestation of climate change. Our biggest worry is therefore that the village we live in, part of a larger region, faces floods. There are two ways to invest our resources (represented by beans):  in development work (resulting in economic development for our own village) or in disaster risk reduction (safeguarding assets in case our village faces floods). You roll two dice to find out whether you are hit by a flood, or if your village has been spared. In the beginning of the game you can invest in an early warning system. If you opt for this, you receive a transparent cup so the number on one dice is visible. If you don’t protect your region against floods and a flood hits, you face a great loss of beans. If all your beans, run out – the price your village pays is a crisis. 

The frustration caused by running out of beans is real! After 10 rounds, most villages did not have any more resources to invest and had to leave the future of their villages to blind chance.

The question of how donors allocate money also came up. Are they willing to invest in advance or only after a disaster? In the  case of the game, donor money only became available when it was already too late.

The game showed in a fun and interactive way that climate change adaptation is full of challenges and uncertainties. Even though the participants all knew that floods may have large impacts on their villages – they  wondered why invest in risk reduction, when they did not know if a disaster would actually hit their village. It was therefore quite attractive to spend money on short term benefits: you could only spend your money once. 

 “Although this game is a simplified version of reality, it sheds light on some of the factors that play out in our real-world project portfolio” said Gernot Laganda, Programme Coordinator for IFAD’s Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP). “Some of our investments are carried away by floods, and project budgets need to be reconfigured to accommodate repair and restoration efforts. Being aware of climate risks before investing allows us to programme more resilient rural development projects.”

“Through ASAP, we introduce disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation measures into IFAD-supported development projects. These measures range from landscape-level interventions, such as watershed afforestation and the restoration of coastal greenbelts, to communal investments in early warning systems, more robust storage infrastructure and salt- or heat-tolerant crop varieties”.

The Red Cross game showed that decision making in relation to climate change and risk management, is quite a difficult task. Even when the will and knowledge to act is there: risks are complex to deal with in a world where money is scarce. 

Telling the stories of rural women through SDG indicators #post2015

Posted by Roxanna Samii Monday, February 24, 2014 0 comments

Clare Bishop-Sambrook, Senior Technical Advisor, Policy and Technical Advisory Division, IFAD

Informal viewpoint following participation in a side event on rural women during OWG8 meeting

During the eighth meeting of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations, New York (3-7 February 2014), one and a half days were dedicated to social equity, gender equality and women’s empowerment. A side event to focus on rural women in an SDG framework was initiated by IFAD and co-organized with FAO and WFP and the support of the Permanent Missions of Mongolia and Nicaragua to the UN.

At the OWG, many speakers affirmed gender equality as an end in itself, and called for a stand-along goal on gender equality as well as cross-cutting targets under other goals . UN Women is calling for a transformative goal, to further drive change and promote and monitor transformation in the structural determinants of gender-based inequality . The three components of the stand-alone goal are: freedom from violence; access to resources, knowledge and health; and voice, leadership and participation.

As we move forward in the SDG debate, it is essential to ensure that the sufficient attention is paid specifically to rural women. A factsheet prepared by UN agencies in 2012 on the progress of rural women against the MDGs - including the stand-alone goal MDG3 on gender equality - had as its main finding that ‘globally, and only with a few exceptions, rural women fare worse than rural men and urban women and men for every MDG indicator for which data are available’.

However, preparing the factsheet was frustrated by the lack of data, not only disaggregated by sex but also by rural-urban location. It also became evident that many of the 60 indicators used to track MDG progress did not resonate with the lives of rural women.

The rural dimension of the SDGs will be crucial for addressing hunger, poverty and environmental concerns. Today, more than 70 per cent of the extreme poor live in rural areas, widespread in low income countries and as pockets of poverty in middle income countries. It is estimated that smallholder farming supports the livelihoods of approximately 2.5 billion people and feeds about 5 billion. The drive to increase productivity will be vital as the urban population continues to grow, with an estimated 70 per cent of the global population living in urban areas by 2050. And in order to realise the potential of the smallholder sector, it will be essential to address gender inequalities which currently hinder production. Women farmers are major producers of food and yet their efforts are hampered by their lack of access to productive resources, inputs, technologies, services and markets.  For a useful summary on the challenges facing rural women, watch "Who Feeds Our World?" produced by the Hunger Project.

What stories do we want to be able to tell about the situation of rural women through the SDG indicators?
The three objectives of the IFAD policy on gender equality and women’s empowerment provide a useful framework for identifying indicators relevant to the livelihoods of rural women. A number of indicators identified to track progress are listed below; many have already been noted by UN Women but those marked with an asterisk are new.

SDG indicators for rural women
Objective 1: to promote economic empowerment to enable rural women and men to have equal opportunity to participate in, and benefit from, profitable economic activities: 
  • Access and control over resources: land ownership, property ownership, inheritance, use of financial services, bank accounts, secondary school enrolment and completion rates, literacy rates
  • Participation in economic activities: registered businesses *, licensed traders in agricultural inputs/ produce *, female agricultural extension agents *, female veterinary officers *, gender gap in wages in agricultural/fisheries/ forestry sector *, percentage of low pay workers in agricultural / fisheries/ forestry sector *
  • Access to and control over benefits: earning and controlling own income, mobile phone ownership, use of internet
Objective 2: to enable women and men to have equal voice and influence in rural institutions and organizations:
  • Rural producer organizations: membership*,  leadership *, leadership of federations *
  • Public institutions: seats held in local government (district and regional), national identity documentation, leadership of natural resource/community infrastructure management groups *, membership and leadership of civil society organizations active in rural areas *
  • Households:  decisions regarding large purchases, decisions regarding women’s health, decisions regarding visiting relatives, important decisions to be made jointly
Objective 3: to achieve a more equitable balance in workloads and in the sharing of economic and social benefits between women and men:
  • Access to safe water and sanitation: time spent collecting water, proportion of population using improved source of drinking water, proportion of population use improved sanitation facility
  • Access to modern/renewable energy sources: time spent collecting firewood, access to electricity, use of modern/renewable energy sources
 But in addition to these output and outcome indicators, it is essential to track whether there is any improvement in the quality of the lives of rural women. The indicators below are targets in their own right but they are also indicative of more profound changes linked to the transformative agenda. For example, if women are able to exercise their reproductive and health rights, or if there is a reduction in harmful traditional practices - such as early marriage or female genital mutilation – or a reduction in the perception that gender-based violence is acceptable behaviour, then these are indications that there has been a significant shift in thinking and behaviour change at the household level. Similarly, improvements in nutrition indicators for women and children demonstrate that women are able to exercise more voice in the allocation of household resources and prioritise nutrition benefits.

Quality of life indicators for rural women
  • Nutrition: anaemia in mothers, child stunting
  • Health: maternal mortality, adolescent fertility, sexual and reproductive health, HIV prevalence
  • Gender-based violence: sexual and/or physical violence, perceptions and attitudes that condone and justify violence against women and girls
  • Harmful traditional practices: female genital mutilation, early marriage

What needs to happen next?
As noted above, most of the indicators listed above are already in the documentation proposed by UN Women. What IFAD is bringing to the agenda is the essential need to ensure that all these data are disaggregated by rural-urban location, so that – in five years’ time – we will be able to track the progress and share the stories of rural women against the SDGs.

Je reviens du Burkina Faso où j’ai participé à l’atelier de clôture du Projet  «Les arbres des parcs agroforestiers et les moyens de subsistance: adaptation aux changements climatiques dans le Sahel ouest-africain».

Il s’agit d’un don FIDA géré par l’ICRAF (World Agroforestry Center) et mis en œuvre au Burkina Faso, Mali et Niger par les instituts nationaux de recherche agricole en collaboration avec les équipes de quatre projets d’investissement financés par le FIDA.

Le but général du projet était d’améliorer les moyens de subsistance des communautés agricoles et pastorales pauvres vivant dans les zones d’intervention, grâce à la diversification et à la conservation des parcs agroforestiers, ainsi qu’à l’accroissement de la valeur des produits des arbres commercialisés dans le cadre d’associations communautaires.

L’atelier de clôture a été extrêmement intense. Vingt-six présentations en l’espace de deux jours sur autant de thèmes de recherche,  portés à terme dans les trois ans passés par des chercheurs et des étudiants des universités des trois pays susmentionnés, en étroite collaboration avec les petits agriculteurs. Car l’aspect innovateur de ce don a été de travailler  selon une approche participative dans laquelle les petits agriculteurs ont été impliqués étroitement dans les programmes de recherche, en prenant eux-mêmes la responsabilité de tester des variétés de semences et des techniques agricoles dans leurs parcelles.
Les actions du projet ont été guidées par des analyses participatives de la vulnérabilité au niveau villageois. Un outil spécifique pour conduire ce type d’analyse a été développé et adopté par les équipes de recherche dans les différents pays (Analyse Participative de la Vulnérabilité et de l’Adaptation au Changement Climatique-  APVACC -http://www.worldagroforestry.org/downloads/publications/PDFs/OP17387.PDF), sur la base duquel les stratégies d’adaptation des différents groups au niveau villageois ont étés identifiées.

Un des résultats majeurs du don est la mise au point de l’approche Régénération Naturelle Assistée (RNA) qui est devenue, au moins au Niger, une source de revenus capable d’assurer la survie à long-terme des communautés. Cette approche consiste à créer, à travers l’adoption de techniques de conservation des eaux et des sols, des conditions favorables pour le développement d’espèces ligneuses. Les agriculteurs protègent et gèrent ces espèces en créant ainsi des nouveaux systèmes agro-forestiers sur des terres auparavant stériles.

Un des facteurs à la base du succès de la RNA au Niger a été l’implication des jeunes élèves (et de leur capacité d’impliquer à leurs parents en provoquant ainsi un changement de mentalité dans la gestion du parc forestier). Les participants à l’atelier ont souligné l’importance de mettre cette pratique à l’échelle  en impliquant un nombre croissant d’écoles primaires.

Une autre recommandation majeure est la nécessité de revisiter les législations forestières pour faciliter l’application à large échelle de la RNA.

Plusieurs études présentées étaient axées sur la valeur économique des Produits Forestiers Non Ligneux (PFNL), principalement le karité - qui engendre en moyenne une chiffre d’affaire de 5 milliards de FCFA (plus de 10 millions de dollars) par an au Burkina Faso - mais aussi le tamarinier, le savon de balanites…. L’analyse des chaines de valeur des PFNL montre clairement le rôle très important que ces produits jouent pour l’économie des femmes et même des enfants, qui sont souvent impliqués dans la collecte des fruits en gagnant de l’argent qui peut être réinvestis en frais scolaires. 

En conclusion de l’atelier, des prix ont été remis aux chercheurs pour l’innovation, la dissémination des résultats de la recherche, et pour le développement d’une méthodologie de recherche innovatrice relative à la séquestration du carbone.

Tous les participants ont été d’accord sur l’importance et la valeur des résultats obtenus par ce projet, mais aussi sur la nécessité d’amplifier les efforts en terme de gestion des savoirs pour assurer que ces résultats arrivent à être disséminés à grande échelle parmi les petits agriculteurs.

La présence des universités à l’atelier, et le fait d’avoir travaillé avec des étudiants pour faire un pont entre instituts de recherche et universités, font espérer que ce travail puisse bénéficier à une nouvelle génération d’étudiants. 

De la même manière, grâce aux liens développés dans les trois pays avec les projets d’investissement du FIDA, la valorisation de ces résultats dans d’autres cadres est maximisé. A cet égard, ils ont déjà bénéficié à la conception de nouveaux projets d’Adaptation de l’Agriculture Paysanne aux Changement Climatique (IFAD ASAP) au Sahel.

By: Ilaria Firmian

by Rima Alcadi
Paul Polman and Nisha Pillai (photo by B. Gravelli)
Paul Polman, is Unilever’s Chief Executive Officer. Since taking office in 2009, he has set out an ambitious vision:  by 2020, Unilever aims to incorporate 500,000 small farmers into its supply chains and to source all of its agricultural raw materials sustainably (see Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan). This centre-stage event was moderated by news anchor Nisha Pillai. They were subsequently joined by Andrew Rugasira, Merlin Preza Ramos, Bill Vorley and Laksmi Prasvita. 

Polman is not only Unilever’s CEO: he is also Chairman of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development; member of the International Business Council of the World Economic Forum; member of the Board of the UN Global Compact; member of the Board of the Consumer Goods Forum; and a Director of the Swiss American Chamber of Commerce. In 2013, he was invited to serve on the High-Level Panel looking at the Post 2015 Millennium Development Goals and previously acted as co-chairman of the B20 group of companies reporting to the G20 on Food Security. In recognition of his contribution to responsible business, in 2012 Polman received the Atlantic Council Award for Distinguished Business Leadership and the CK Prahalad Award for Global Sustainability Leadership. We certainly have a lot to learn from him! There’s lots on Polman on the web: pictures, articles, videos. Polman has a Velcro effect on people – what he says sticks. I will provide you with some snippets of his intervention:

·         Business exists to solve a problem - to serve  society.

·         If the system doesn’t work, business will not work either. Sustainability needs to be factored into the business model and business should be part of the solution. People want greater traceability and transparency when it comes to food especially. We are in this together. There can be no business if people are too poor to buy.

·        Unilever is an NGO – a non-governmental organization! The only difference between Unilever and other NGOs is that our business is financially sustainable and we don’t need to ask for resources;

·         Our children passed the age of 5 – why do they have the right while several others don’t? We produce bar soap, it is to our advantage that it is sold. So we train people on how to lead healthier and longer lives via better hygiene. It is a win-win.

·         The world is long on words and short on actions. You can't talk yourself out of what you’ve behaved yourself into.

·         Great inequalities are worrisome

Polman reminded us that we have still much work to do. We have major challenges to face, including mitigating and adapting to climate change, achieving food security and poverty alleviation and no company, government, NGO, or UN organization can tackle these challenges alone. To create an ecosystem that can help lift people out of poverty, we need to work in partnership. Indeed, his visit to IFAD is not only as star of this centre-stage event, but also to ratify a Memorandum of Understanding with us - this will lead to more smallholder farmers connected to markets. The partnership with IFAD would be valuable for Unilever. IFAD can help train and build the capacity of smallholder farmers, while Unilever can provide smallholder farmers with employment, access to market and the long-term guarantee of a fair price for their produce, as well as infrastructure. Reduction of poverty is important to Unilever also because smallholder farmers’ role as consumers is strengthened. This is thus putting in motion a virtual cycle that can provide benefits to all involved.

The event was certainly further enriched with the participation of the other panellists.

Prasvita is the Executive Director of PISAgro working with over 53,000 farmers. Under her leadership, PISAgro membership has expanded exponentially, attracting considerable private-sector investment. An important message from her is to work with smallholder farmers to ensure that they can improve productivity and quality, focusing also on postharvest. Their work consistently involves private sector partners and they pay attention to the entire supply chains (from farm to fork).

Preza Ramos, is the Director of the PRODECOOP Fair Trade cooperative in Nicaragua. An advocate for empowering cooperatives, over the last decades she has been instrumental in building the capacity of cooperative members, implementing a robust marketing strategy, thus ensuring fair trade. She reminded us that there are several different models in place – the key is to not lose sight of the fact that  the smallholder farmer needs to sustain himself and his family, while respecting the environment.

Rugasira, is the founder and CEO of Good African Coffee, a Uganda-based social enterprise that brings quality coffees, roasted and packed at source, to the global market. Good African Coffee works with a supply network of more than 14,000 coffee farmers in western Uganda. He highlighted that farmers are in their enterprise for business. Smallholder farmers are poor only because they lack opportunities. They lack money and resources as a result of the fact that they lack opportunities to make money. A major challenge is adding value to commodities so that smallholder farmers are not exposed to price volatility.

Vorley is the Principal Researcher in the Sustainable Markets Group at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). He told us that he is a big fan of what Unilever is doing, especially because it is done in a public and transparent way. He noted that it is not only important to understand and appreciate success, but also to understand what are the main reasons for failure.

The 10% of smallholders that are able to work with the private sector are able to do so because they are the ones with the least risk exposure: they are typically organised in cooperatives, have irrigation, enjoy access to quality seeds, adopt good agronomic practices, have access to infrastructure, etc. So if IFAD and governments can work jointly to help to provide these basic conditions, a more conducive environment will be created for the private sector to invest.

By Rima Alcadi
The panel discussion on "Stories from the field : Investment in the transformation of rural people’s lives" involved 4 of our Country Programme Managers/Country Directors: Cristiana Sparacino, for Burkina Faso; Esther Kasalu-Coffin, for Haiti; Nigel Brett, for Bangladesh; and Nadine Gbossa, for Kenya. The panel was moderated by Kevin Cleaver, IFAD Associate Vice President for the Programme Management Department. The event was very useful for us to learn more about how IFAD-funded projects are transforming and having an impact on the lives of rural people. As highlighted by Kevin, IFAD overall is quite successful – with an 80%success rate. We can flaunt achievements in terms of positive impact on women, and on the environment. Our major challenges are working in fragile states, scaling up, ensuring that women have equal access to resources, and confronting environmental issues – particularly in the face of climate change. The stories from our Country Programme Managers/Country Directors are detailed below.

Burkina Faso: farmers coping with climate change
The Sahel is highly exposed to the impact of climate change and farmers in Burkina have been struggling to cope with climate change variability for decades. Because of this, they developed several agronomic practices, based on traditional land management techniques. These include soil and water conservation techniques and agro-forestry. IFAD works with farmers to improve their local techniques and support their innovations. As a result of IFAD and partners’ interventions, the phenomenon of re-greening of the Sahel is now taking place. Farmers have benefited from productivity increases in a series of nutritious, drought resistant and mainly rain-fed crops, such as sorghum, cowpea and millet. With climate change becoming more and more of an issue in the Sahel, fortunately successful agronomic practices adopted in Burkina Faso are being scaled out to other countries. What Cristiana highlighted as major ingredients contributing to success are: (a) supporting farmers’ knowledge; (b) ensuring government support; and (c) basing project design on lessons learnt from the field. Scaling out to other countries in the Sahel took place because she championed it: when she was Country Programme Manager for Mauritania, she went for a supervision mission in Burkina Faso and, when she saw farmers’ innovative agronomic practices, she promoted these in Mauritania by building these into the design of a new project.

Haiti: forging strategic partnerships to address capacity issues
Esther Kasalu-Coffin (photo by Suyun Kim)

Haiti is a country where IFAD has operated for over 35 years. Rural poverty reduction in Haiti is a challenge for several reasons, including  the fragility of key public institutions. Just imagine: Haiti has experienced 10 extreme natural disasters in the past decade, amongst which the catastrophic 2010 earthquake, which shocked the entire world and devastated the country. Throughout all these hardships, public institutional capacity has suffered. Notwithstanding these difficulties, IFAD funded investment projects have directly benefited more than 500,000 people in the rural areas. Because of the erosion in capacity in public institutions, IFAD and the government of Haiti have resorted to forging strategic partnerships at the national level, for instance with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) to support the process of program management, as well as at the local level, well-established NGOs in the country, such as Welthungerhilfe. IFAD partners with the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, and the European Union, to build the capacity of institutions in the sector, in a comprehensive manner. The out-posting of Esther Kasalu-Coffin herself is another valuable support that IFAD management is providing to the government.

Bangladesh: small fish = big difference
Bangladesh is covered with floodplains and rivers, which represent a rich ecosystems for freshwater fish. The floodplains comprise 80% of the country. Fish is essential in the Bangladeshi diet, constituting the main source of proteins and micro-nutrients in poor rural households. More than 80% of the animal protein in the Bangladeshi diet comes from fish. Yet the capture fishery is often badly managed. Productive water bodies attract the attention of powerful local elites and poor rural people often find themselves excluded and unable to benefit from this essential resource. The leasing system of these water bodies was for 3 years, providing no incentive for these resources to be managed properly. As a result, water bodies were exploited mercilessly. In 2003, the Government of Bangladesh worked with IFAD to change the leasing arrangements from 3 to 10 years and explored ways to ensure that poor fishermen could benefit from the water bodies. User groups with poor fishermen, and including women, were set up and supported to benefit from the new longer leasing arrangements. The results – from the financial, social and environmental perspectives - have been tremendous, as user groups are now investing in improving the fish production habitat of their water bodies. An evaluation of the project, by World Fish Center, noted that biodiversity and fish production increased significantly. The nutritional status of children also increased (with a notable decrease in stunting). This success is now being scaled up, with the involvement of other donors (Spanish Funds and JICA). 

Kenya: the poverty reduction business

Nadine Gbossa (photo by Jean-Philippe Decraene)
In Kenya, the government worked with the EU to introduce an input subsidy scheme, whereby farmers received improved seeds, fertilizers, and training on agronomic practices that led to a 150% increase in productivity. However, these excellent results were not sustainable as, without government support, farmers could not sustain the production surplus. Government of Kenya and the European Union approached IFAD to capitalize on the experience in supporting smallholders. The agreement was scaling up what works, but going beyond increasing productivity only. Productivity was understood as only one element of the equation. A value chain approach was also needed and access to financial services was a third essential element. Because IFAD recognised that smallholders needed to access the financial sector to sustain the investment in their business, IFAD brokered a partnership with Equity Bank – a leading bank when it comes to lending to small holders. Smallholder were registered, given credit cards to access inputs, provided with training in financial literacy and access to credit – not for philanthropic reasons– but because Equity Bank recognised that the programme support will mitigate risks and that the investment was good business. Banks are usually averse to investing in agriculture as it is considered a risky business. By providing better inputs (such as quality seeds, irrigation, capacity building on agronomic practices, fertilisers and so on), IFAD, the EU and the Government of Kenya are basically helping to hedge against the risks inherent in agriculture, thus making agriculture better business for Equity Bank as well as other banks!

These 4 stories give us a taste of what are the type of challenges IFAD staff face. However, these stories above are not only stories from the field – these are also stories of successful development practitioners, who have passion for what they are doing and who are not shying away from the inevitable difficulties and challenges they face. They are also stories of leaders who work in partnerships with others to identify opportunities and achieve great goals –IFAD’s goals. Listening to our 4 colleagues, I felt that there was a lot to learn from them, and that they were quite successful development practitioners who are helping us build the reputation of IFAD as centre of excellence. I asked myself: what makes them successful? I think that it’s their unwavering commitment, persistence, resilience, and especially their ability to deal with challenges.

ROME, Italy – Ugandan entrepreneur Andrew Rugasira told a story yesterday that spoke volumes about the importance of investing in rural people as a solution to endemic poverty and hunger. “It’s not charity,” he said. “It’s a business proposition.”

Rugasira, CEO of the Good African Coffee company, was speaking at a panel discussion on private-sector investment in smallholder agriculture. The panel was part of the International Fund for Agricultural Development’s 2014 Governing Council session, a two-day gathering of high-level representatives from IFAD’s member countries.

As the panel’s moderator pointed out, Good African Coffee is the first African packaging and roasting enterprise to export coffee directly to markets in the United Kingdom. And as Rugasira recalled, getting to that point has been a rewarding journey – but not an easy one. What’s more, it is a journey that corresponds with many of the key points covered at this year’s Governing Council, which focused on investing in smallholder family farmers as a vehicle for sustainable rural development.

Transforming rural communities
The journey began a decade ago, when Rugasira and a small team of colleagues travelled to the mountains of western Uganda in search of small-scale growers to supply them with high-quality coffee beans. At first, the team aroused little interest among farmers in the region. “We were meeting with grandmothers and their grandchildren” rather than working farmers, Rugasira said.

Andrew Rugasira, CEO of Good African Coffee, at Governing Council panel
on private-sector investment. ©IFAD
Eventually, Rugasira met the widely respected headmaster of a local school and made his case for the nascent Good African Coffee brand. It was time, he asserted, for Africans to process and market their own products globally and use trade, not aid, as a model for development. The headmaster was convinced, and he spread the word.

At the next meeting called by Rugasira and his team, 300 men and women – all smallholder farmers – turned out. The people at that meeting were among the first to join a network that has since grown to include some 14,000 Ugandan smallholders. Members of the network supply Arabica beans to Good African Coffee’s processing facility in Kampala. Besides providing its suppliers with training in good farming practices, the company has developed 17 savings and credit cooperatives in coffee-growing areas. As a result, noted Rugasira, “we’ve seen the farmers transform their communities.”

‘A dignified occupation’
For IFAD, the story of the coffee growers in Uganda is further evidence that investing in rural people brings returns that transcend mere economics. Indeed, IFAD is engaged in similar efforts around the world. By providing loans and grants to train and build the capacity of small-scale producers – and to enhance their access to credit and markets – these initiatives generate lasting, positive change for some of the world’s poorest people.

IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze speaks at the 2014 Governing Council
meeting. ©IFAD/Flavio Ianniello
“We invest in rural people because we believe that they are part of the solution to the world’s challenges,” said IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze, speaking at the Governing Council. “We believe it because we have seen it, over and over, year after year, in the countries with whom we work and in the projects we support. Smallholder family agriculture is a business. And it can be a high-yielding, efficient and lucrative business, a dignified occupation that produces food, creates jobs, sustains families and puts countries on the road to stable, inclusive development.”

It’s hard to argue with such aspirations. The test for IFAD will come in the years ahead, as it invests in new development projects and works to foster constructive policy dialogues with governments and other partners – all in the name of unlocking the vast potential of rural women, men and children.

IFAD has launched a new animated video about the power of investing in rural people. Watch it here.

By Maria Elena Mangiafico

During the rich discussions at the pre-GC event “Achieving a sustainable future for all: Rural transformation and the post-2015 agenda”, like most people who followed, I was trying to visualize what rural people’s lives will look like 20 years from now.

This feeling came on even stronger when Ambassador Gerda Verburg, Chairperson of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) said that Post 2015 goals should tell an ambitious story about where we want to be in 2030.

So what do we want to put in the picture of the rural lives of tomorrow?

Most of the colours we will put in it are shades of what IFAD is already doing and will continue to do more of and better.

Let’s start by adding a more vivid shade for empowered rural people, especially women, whose voices are heard and are part of decision-making processes.

Then go with a decisive green to represent vibrant rural economies where transaction costs are reduced so that smallholder farmers can access larger markets.

We want colours of innovative agricultural solutions and services so that young people actually choose to stay in rural areas and make a decent living for the families. (I was touched by a story told during the Farmers’ Forum about students who were attending a training on organic agriculture in the Himalayas where the teacher asked the young students: who wants to become a doctor and several raised their hands, an engineer? and hands up, a policeman? and hands up, fireman? and hands up, until he asked who wants to be a farmer? and not one hand went up. In the future we want to see hands up.)

How about the colour of resilience of rural households to shocks? In the future they will be able to manage the risks they face and be less exposed and vulnerable.

Of course we need a nice shade of infrastructure as well guaranteeing good roads, hospitals, schools, water and sanitation.

We also need to add some strokes representing access – access to financial services, to assets, to markets, to land, to natural resources, to technologies, to health care, and access to opportunities.

And yes we want to see the grumpy faces in the background of those who thought that rurality was a synonym for backwardness and marginality.

This may seem like a very ambitious painting but after all the changes I’ve seen in my lifetime (and yes -  it does span for well over 20 years), there is hope that it could happen.

But it won’t be easy - it will take the most talented artists (not even Picasso could do it alone) to invest and join forces to promote rural transformation.

If the picture doesn’t look nice in the end, it won’t count as a defeat only for rural people but we will all be defeated. Rural areas are the producers of our food, the custodians of our environment and the hope for our future.

Farmers' Forum participants fill the Italian Conference Room at IFAD headquarters. ©IFAD
ROME, Italy – For the past two days, the largest meeting room at the headquarters of the International Fund for Agricultural Development has been filled to capacity for the 2014 session of the Farmers’ Forum, an ongoing consultation between IFAD and organizations representing small-scale farmers and rural producers around the world.

The forum convenes every other year for a global consultation, held in conjunction with the annual Governing Council meeting of IFAD’s member states. This year’s Governing Council begins today with a full roster of official delegations and expert panellists. But in the run-up to that meeting, smallholder farmers, foresters, pastoralists and artisanal fishers held the floor at IFAD, voicing their concerns and sharing their ideas on reducing rural poverty and boosting food security – all from a decidedly grassroots perspective.

This year, the Farmers’ Forum took place in the context of the International Year of Family Farming, declared by the United Nations to call attention to the important role played by smallholder producers in feeding rapidly rising urban and rural populations in developing countries. The forum also coincided with preparations for IFAD’s next replenishment of funding from member states, and with the broader international effort to define a sustainable development agenda for the post-2015 era.

Seizing opportunities
Faced with these milestones, small-scale rural producers’ organizations certainly have their work cut out for them. As IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze put it in his opening statement at the Farmers’ Forum: “We recognize that development is not something that is done to people, but something that is done by people for themselves.”

Representatives of small-scale producers' organizations at the forum. ©IFAD
To advance rural development in a spirit of partnership and inclusiveness, the Farmers’ Forum featured plenary and working group sessions on issues of mutual interest to IFAD and forum participants. Topics ranged from managing small-scale fisheries and expanding market access for family farmers to strengthening women’s presence in farmers’ organizations and boosting the voice of smallholders in dialogues on agricultural policy.

The deliberations concluded with a plenary session on a wide-ranging statement, drafted by Farmers’ Forum participants to convey their ideas and proposals to IFAD and its governing bodies. Noting that the forum was established almost a decade ago, the statement called for a joint effort to seize new opportunities that have emerged during that time. “If we do not seize them our collaboration risks stagnating,” it warned.

“Smallholder family farming should be recognized as a pillar of local, sustainable development and a substantial guarantee for food security and peace and stability in the world,” the statement continued. “This vision has to be conceived at every level and implemented in national actions with positive effects for each community.”

Improved collaboration
At the plenary, forum participants went on to urge that IFAD devote additional resources, training and capacity-building to support their organizations and accelerate its efforts to:
  • Improve the image of small-scale family farming, pastoralism and artisanal fishing as formally recognized professions
  • Increase the involvement of smallholder producers’ organizations in IFAD’s country-level programmes and operational activities
  • Strengthen interaction between the Farmers’ Forum and IFAD at various levels, to facilitate more effective contributions by farmers’ organizations to IFAD initiatives on a continuing basis
  • Enhance collaboration between IFAD and farmers’ organizations in policy forums such as the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and initiatives such as the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme.
The participants also called upon governments to resolve the agrarian crises in their countries by – among other measures – making effective use of IFAD financing, implementing CFS guidelines on land tenure and adopting Food and Agriculture Organization guidelines on small-scale fisheries. For their part, the small-scale producers’ organizations made commitments to pursue a common agenda; enhance their ability to engage in policy dialogue and provide services to their members; and raise the level of participation by women and young people in their respective groups, and in the Farmers’ Forum as a whole.

Over the next two days, the recommendations from the forum will inform debates and discussions at the Governing Council, as IFAD maps its course on investing in rural people in the years to come.

Project design with local talents: a promising story from Malawi

Posted by Beate Stalsett Tuesday, February 18, 2014 0 comments

Preface by Federica Franco 

2014 started off well with a successful experiment: an IFAD project being designed together with talented local young professionals. In an unprecedented initiative, four young professionals working in Malawi’s water sector participated in the design of a new rural irrigation project. While their intention was to learn, they delivered much more than that, leaving a long-lasting impression on senior government officials and IFAD country director Ms. Abla Benhammouche.

Since June 2012, IFAD's Policy and Technical Advisory Division’s Water Unit has been implementing a small but ambitious pilot project targeting early career professionals from five countries in sub-Saharan Africa: “Filling the Inter-Generational Gap in Knowledge on Agricultural Water Management: Twinning Junior and Senior Experts”, or Jr/Sr Twinning in short. This capacity building exercise under IFAD’s Innovation Mainstreaming Initiative (IMI), was developed to prove the effectiveness of inter-generational cooperation and field-based mentoring to transfer knowledge from Senior to Junior experts, and thus to ensure the continuity and sustainability of water management in agriculture, nurturing a new wave of local experts. The project ended in October 2013, leaving behind the contagious enthusiasm of its first batch of Junior participants and a vibrant interest in the stakeholders arena.

The four young Malawians, Eshiperancar, Marnet, Mphatso and Violet, had just finished working as IFAD junior fellows under the Jr/Sr Twinning project when the opportunity came to participate in the design mission. As such, the four spent three weeks with the mission team, taking part in all the activities on the field and in Lilongwe, working on a specific set of tasks and outputs. Their involvement in the mission was an invaluable opportunity to experience first-hand how the design of large donor funded projects works, and to prove that their contribution can really make the difference.

The article below was written by the four Junior fellows at the end of their mission. It’s their wake up call for additional investments targeting promising young talents from the South, to make youth participation more than just a fashionable buzzword. Now it’s up to IFAD and other development actors to take their message seriously. For more information on the initiative contact Federica Franco.

We guarantee you, invest in the youth and you are investing in the future, for the future

Written by: Marnet Ngosi, Mphatso Malota, Eshiperancar Kampini and Violet Moyo; IFAD Junior fellows, Malawi

More often than not, young qualified professionals are left out in development activities. In a large part, this is because of their lack of practical hands-on experience. Regrettably, they are the same people who are expected to take over from the present generation. The question we would like to pose therefore is: how can young generations take over in the near future if they are not equipped for their upcoming responsibilities? 

If the young generations are to ensure the future of food security and the sustainable use of natural resources, one of the key areas of focus of policies and interventions should be building up their capacity and empowering them. Today, governments and institutions are designing the future of our countries, yet they’re overlooking the fact that the future will not be in their hands, but rather in those of the now young professionals who will be there to implement and reap the fruits of such decisions. Let us recognize and embrace the need to transfer critical expertise to the youth, uplift them and enhance their capacity!

As young professionals in the water sector, we feel that the incorporation of our views and opinions under guidance of senior experts, can effectively build up our professional competency and prepare us to address the dynamic issues we will face in the future. Knowledge transfer and inter-generational cooperation strengthen our self-confidence to ably tackle future challenges, and as experienced professionals discuss problems and solutions among us, we can really think: ‘I am the future and I am going to be part of it when it will happen’.

The IFAD Jr/Sr twinning programme was a great opportunity to showcase our potential, and to advocate the need to include us in decision making processes.  Our experience with IFAD’s mentorship programme has been fruitful and productive. Thanks to the programme, we improved our technical, analytical and writing skills, we strengthened our capacity in development research, project implementation and reporting, but also immensely benefited from the close collaboration with rural communities. We got acquainted with setting up career priorities and professional goals through the use of the Personal Development Plan and evaluations. Taking part in the IFAD design mission, we worked on our time-management skills and gained significant exposure to big donor-funded projects. 

Overall, it has been a successful professional enhancement for us. We commend IFAD for this brilliant initiative and urge to continue investing in youth empowerment programmes, so that more young experts will be reached out to. May other organisations follow IFAD’s example and introduce similar initiatives targeting local junior professionals: only together we will be able to work towards building a better future.

Fishing for our future #post2015 #ifadgc #fafo2014

Posted by Roxanna Samii Monday, February 17, 2014 1 comments

by Kanayo F. Nwanze

It is a cliché of development discourse that it is better to teach people to fish than to give them fish to eat. While there is a core of truth in this statement, the issues have become much more complex than such simple ideas suggest.

Today, as the international community is working to fashion a new sustainable development agenda to succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), there are at least 842 million children, women and men suffering from chronic hunger and many more who are poorly nourished. The world population has passed 7 billion. And climate change presents a serious challenge to growing enough food to feed this and future generations.

Today’s world differs greatly from what the architects of the MDGs faced. There is consensus that we need not just a new set of goals, but a new way of reaching them that embraces a comprehensive approach to sustainable development, looking at the economic, social and environmental dimensions. In development parlance, a transformation has to happen.

And that transformation has to happen in rural areas, as well as urban. For one thing, 76 percent of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas. Most of them depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. If development doesn’t reach them, then development fails.

But these rural women and men are also a powerful force: small family farms provide up to 80 percent of the food produced in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia. They are also stewards of natural resources and biodiversity on which the future depends.

And they have the potential to grow more food, feed more people, reduce poverty, create jobs and protect our natural resources – but only if we apply a transformative approach to development. Investing in rural people is essential to that approach.

The idea of transformation is not new. Almost 40 years ago, the Universal Declaration on the Eradication of Hunger and Malnutrition stated that “effective measures of socio-economic transformation” would be needed in order “to remove the obstacles to food production and to provide proper incentives to agricultural producers”.

That declaration was adopted in 1974 by the World Food Conference – the same conference that provided the initial impetus for the creation of the organisation I head, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

IFAD’s experience shows that investing in rural people and in agriculture can ensure a real return on investment in terms of food security and poverty reduction. We know that market-oriented, profitable and environmentally sustainable smallholder agriculture can spur economic growth in developing countries and lift millions out of poverty.

In the world’s 49 least developed countries, agriculture is the backbone of the economy, accounting for 30 to 60 percent of gross domestic product and employing as much as 70 percent or more of the workforce. And smallholders in developing countries play a key role in protecting our environment, providing a wide range of environmental services that contribute to carbon sequestration and limit carbon emissions.

Neither global food security nor poverty eradication can be achieved without rural development. The world is becoming increasingly urban, yet cities are still fed by the people working the land in rural areas. And rural areas are changing, as higher returns from agriculture attract more investment and create new opportunities. If poor farmers and fishers are excluded, they will follow a well-trodden path to over-crowded urban areas and abroad.

More and more, the development community is realising that we cannot move forward if we continue to think of agriculture and rural areas as backward, or marginal. This change in our mindset needs to be embraced by developed and developing countries alike.

To transform rural spaces and lives will require imaginative projects, partnerships and technologies. Yet we must be realistic.

The future we want isn’t free, and it isn’t enough just to want it. It will have to be paid for – not just with greater investment in agriculture and rural development to ensure nutritious food for all, and not just by tearing down the barriers to accessing food, inputs or finances. It will cost us time, and a higher level of care and attention.

Transformation means not just changing the outcome, but changing the context. It must be both ameliorative and preventive at the same time – changing the present, and opening the door to a better and more secure future. It means helping people fish today in a way that will also ensure there are fish to catch tomorrow and long into the future.

IFAD invites you to join Adolfo Brizzi, Director of IFAD’s Policy and Technical Advisory Division, and Gerda Verburg, Chair of the Committee on World Food Security, for a  discussion on “Achieving a sustainable future for all: Rural transformation and the post-2015 agenda”.

The event on February 18 starts at 13.30 GMT, and will be webcast at http://webcasting.ifad.org/gc2014 with questions and comments taken live from Twitter with the hashtags: #ifadgc and #post2015

As featured on Thomas Reuters Foundation website

From the crop to the cup: The good fortune of some green beans

Posted by daniela cuneo Tuesday, February 11, 2014 1 comments

by Daniela Cuneo

Coffee is one of the most widely-consumed drinks around the world: Millions of people (and yes, I am one of those!) just can’ t think of starting their day without  a good cup of coffee. Not surprisingly, the word coffee is a word borrowed from the Arabic word  “qahwah” which means “power” . Power as energy for coffee drinkers and power as ability for smallholder coffee producers of developing countries  to penetrate the markets for certified sustainable products, markets that open up opportunities to produce sustainably, cost-effectively and sell the crop at remunerative prices.
But how can smallholder coffee producers make the most out of their crop if they don’t have a sense of the complexity of these  markets?
Too often their  hard work does not translate into  decent incomes and the reason is very simple;  their coffee beans do not meet the standards required by the market therefore they are sold for few pennies or even worst they remain unsold!! 
Coffee consumers are  not all the same! They have different tastes, they love different blends  and they are very demanding!. That’s why,  for coffee buyers  the big challenge is to find different and special green beans for their coffee blends and for producers is to cultivate  the right coffee beans.  But what is the relationship between coffee producers and buyers? In most cases none!
Producers don’t know what happens to their harvest  once it leaves their countries, buyers don’t know how producers  grow and process their coffee beans and they never have the chance to talk to each other.
But this is not what is happening to smallholder coffee producers  of developing countries who are participating in an innovative programme funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)  known as SAMCERT,  Strengthening Smallholders’  Access to Markets for Certified Sustainable Products .

Building bridges along the coffee value chain of IFAD-funded projects: a capacity building initiative.

Thanks  to SAMCERT , a three years partnership initiative with the  Ethical and Environmental Certification Institute (ICEA ) and  the Sustainable Commodity Initiative (SCI) ,  IFAD project representatives from Sao Tome and Principe (Genito and Nelson) , Nicaragua (Julio, Merlín, Wilmer and Denis), Dominican Republic (Maria and Rufino) and Papua New Guinea (Rose and Esther) came to Italy in December 2013 and had the opportunity for the first time ever in their life to:

• Take a close look at Italian roasting companies  and coffee retailers

•    Experience the magic of the roasting

•    Enjoy the true flavour of roasted coffee beans

•    Refine their sense of smell to ascertain the properties of the green beans !

•    Appreciate the different qualities of the green beans

•    Capture the key phases of the roasting process

•    Learn how roasting is done

•    And actually ……….do it!

•    Understand the role that technology plays in the production  process

•    Exchange coffee beans from IFAD-funded projects with Italian roasters

•    Be briefed at ICEA HQ on SAMCERT objectives and the key pillars of the certification process

•    Hear from Italian coffee buyers what kind of coffee they are looking for

•    Participate in a coffee cupping exercise at IFAD and have their  coffee samples assessed by Italian coffee experts from Café Latino!

To my surprise and I guess to the ones of the IFAD project representatives, the  coffee beans have a sort of “ DNA“ which unveils , though a number of tests , how the beans are grown and processed so no secrets for the coffee tasting experts! The best  beans were the beans from Nicaragua  but also the ones from the other countries had lot of strengths. In terms of weaknesses, all of them had a few and the Italian coffee experts offered technical solutions and advice to overcome them .
As Alessio Baschieri ( Associazione Caffè Latino)” said, “there is no such thing as good coffee. There are coffees that consumers choose. The challenge consist in assessing  the qualities  of our coffee beans and  build linkages with the markets  that appreciate them. ” 

Thanks to this initiative,  which was organized by SAMCERT and supported by “Caffe’Terzi” , “ L’albero del caffe’Caffe’Corsini, Comitato Italiano Caffe’ , “Cooperazione Italiana” ,  the  Istituto Agronomico per l'Oltremare (IAO) and " Associazione Caffè Latino", IFAD  project representatives went back to their countries with  a clearer understanding of the Italian market requirements, the standards they have to meet in order to penetrate in the market of certified coffee. In few hours some of them will  be in Nurnberg to participate in Biofach 2014 and they will get an opportunity to present their  beans to coffee buyers from all over the world and as a result truly put their business flair into practice. I wish them the best of success and I’ll be lucky enough to see them in action. So watch this space to find out how well they are doing! To know more follow # BioFachVivaness #ifad

Watch the video


A renewed focus on nutrition

Posted by Roxanna Samii Saturday, February 8, 2014 1 comments

By Kanayo F. Nwanze 

IFAD is a United Nations specialized agency and an international financial institution committed to providing investments that create a route out of poverty for rural people in the developing world, most of whom are involved in agriculture. While our mandate and commitment are unchanged, the context of our work is rapidly evolving, and we are taking steps to adapt. In recent years we have created the Environment and Climate Division, the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) multi-donor trust fund, the Strategy and Knowledge Department, and new policies on gender and other issues. We are serious about tackling the problems that smallholder farmers face, and that necessitates adapting to changes in the development landscape.

As a result, we are increasing our commitment of resources to issues related to nutrition. This may be surprising, since nutrition has been a concern of IFAD from the start and improving nutrition was embodied in the Agreement Establishing IFAD. And much has been achieved nutritionally over the course of IFAD’s existence through focusing on smallholder farmers and on women, who do most of the agricultural labour and are particularly vulnerable.

But in spite of our achievements, we can—and need—to do more. Even small adjustments to IFAD investments to make them more nutrition-sensitive could have an impressive impact on nutrition outcomes.  Investments that are nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive can help re-shape agricultural production and the food system as a whole in ways that improve nutrition.

We can categorize some investments as having a primarily nutritional purpose, such as biofortified staple crops or home vegetable gardens. They  improve nutrition and dietary intake and quality, though they have other benefits as well--for example, some biofortified crops may command higher prices in the market, or be more disease-resistant or adapted to micronutrient-deficient soils.

But other actions not specifically aimed at nutrition can still affect it.  For example, higher productivity and income can increase rural people’s access to a greater variety of foods. Improved marketing and storage infrastructure can lead to lower relative prices for fruits, vegetables, fish and livestock products, making them more affordable. Empowerment of women can improve their and their families’ nutrition.

To eradicate malnutrition, of course, is a complex endeavor. Our work must be complemented with actions in other sectors, particularly health, education, and water and sanitation. But good nutrition still begins with food and agriculture. A food-based approach also ensures a sound foundation for nutrition throughout our life cycle. With adequate resources and knowledge, mothers can often draw on local foods to prepare an adequate diet rich in energy and micronutrients for their young children.  And with more nutrition-sensitive agriculture and food systems, older children and adults will be able to make the choices they need to consume a more nutritious diet – ensuring that the food they eat gives them the whole complex of macro- and micronutrients they need.

.… good nutrition still begins with food and agriculture.  A food-based approach also ensures a sound foundation for nutrition throughout our life cycle.
The human cost of inaction
Improving nutrition is still a massive, unfinished agenda. In 2011, there were 165 million children with stunted growth, leading to compromised cognitive development and physical abilities. Every day more than 8,000 children die from preventable causes related to undernutrition.  We can’t let another generation be scarred by hunger and malnutrition.

IFAD is well-positioned through its presence in countries where its investments can also support efforts to increase agriculture’s contribution to improved nutrition. Many of the countries where we work in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia will not be able to break out of poverty or sustain economic advances when so much of their population is unable to achieve the level of nutrition that is needed for a healthy and productive life.  Undernutrition is responsible for the loss of billions of dollars in productivity; it is estimated that an amount equal to 11% of GDP in Africa and Asia is lost to undernutrition every year, with productivity losses to individuals of more than 10% of lifetime earnings. This is a staggering loss  – the value of goods and services that countries in Africa and Asia could and should have produced, but didn’t, equals billions of dollars.

More than 4 in 10 children under the age of five are undernourished in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, and about 7-15% of children in those regions are wasted (very thin). Many of these countries have prioritized nutrition and are at  the heart of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement. IFAD can help to deliver progress and action to scale up nutrition in these SUN countries because we are already very active in almost all of them.

Failure to expand, sharpen and accelerate our efforts on nutrition will impose a heavy cost in wasted opportunities.

There is broad  agreement that there can be no eradication of poverty without dealing with nutrition. When farm families are malnourished, they are less productive, and the children suffer long-term damage. Improving the nutrition of farming populations not only reduces the number of undernourished people, but also increases agricultural productivity and contributes to a thriving agricultural economy. Thus, nutrition is not a sideshow to our central work of combatting rural hunger and poverty; it is central and even essential to that mission.

….nutrition is not a sideshow to our central work of combatting rural hunger and poverty … it is central and even essential to that mission.

Next steps 
We have to start from the premise that agriculture needs to provide greater and more comprehensive attention to nutrition. We can build on actions we know have direct or indirect impact on nutrition, as described above.  Leveraging food supply chains to improve nutrition and scaling-up the use of biofortified staple crops -- rich in essential micronutrients -- hold much promise.

We should focus on actions that will optimize agriculture’s contribution to the nutrition of rural people, especially women and children, while at the same time being sensitive to gender and impacts on environmental sustainability.

If better nutrition is going to be a goal,  that goal needs to be measurable. We will be investing in project designs that incorporate nutritional considerations, and following-up with good evaluations and rigorous assessments to gather evidence that our activities are improving nutrition, especially for children under five.  IFAD’s overall results measurements framework for 2013-2015 includes chronic child malnutrition (i.e. height for age, or stunting) as one of the two anchor indicators to measure IFAD’s impact on the ground.
IFAD is also collaborating with the CGIAR’s Agriculture for Nutrition and Health Program (A4NH), led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the new Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition to increase knowledge of which agriculture and food systems can in fact accelerate progress and have a substantial effect on nutrition.  With the assistance of  Canada, we have launched an initiative to mainstream nutrition perspectives into projects and programmes right from the start.  More recently, with support from Germany, we are developing nutrition-sensitive value chains for smallholders in middle-income countries. Partnerships and  knowledge exchange will continue to be an important part of our future work on nutrition, and I look forward to working with our members and partners to ensure that IFAD-funded programmes contribute to greater access to nutritious foods and high-quality diets for the rural poor, particularly women and children.

As appeared on Impatient Optimist