The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized agency of the United Nations, was established in 1977 as an international financial institution. It is dedicated to eradicating rural poverty in developing countries because seventy-five per cent of the world's poorest people - 1.4 billion women, children and men - live in rural areas and depend on agriculture and related activities for their livelihoods.
IFAD: Historical Retrospect
It was formed on the basis of the proposal presented in the 1974 World Food Conference which was organized in response to the food crises of the early 1970s that primarily affected the Sahelian countries of Africa. It resolved that "an International Fund for Agricultural Development should be established immediately to finance agricultural development projects primarily for food production in the developing countries." One of the most important insights emerging from the conference was that the causes of food insecurity and famine were not so much failures in food production but structural problems relating to poverty, and to the fact that the majority of the developing world's poor populations were concentrated in rural areas.
Administrative Structure of IFAD
The Governing Council: It is the highest decision-making authority. Each Member State is represented in the Governing Council by Governors, Alternate Governors and any other designated advisers.
The Executive Board: It is responsible for overseeing the general operations of IFAD and for approving its programme of work. Membership on the Executive Board is determined by the Governing Council and is presently distributed as follows:
• List A: Eight Members and eight Alternate Members (primarily countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).
• List B: Four Members and four Alternate Members (primarily countries in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries).
• List C: Six Members and six Alternate Members; two each in the three regional sub-divisions of List C Member States (developing countries).
Strategic Framework of IFAD
Agenda 2030 of IFAD mandates the investment programme for the rural people and enabling inclusive and sustainable transformation of rural areas, notably through smallholder agriculture-led growth, is of absolute global relevance today and over the coming decade.
After several years of growth and reform, IFAD is recognized for its experience, knowledge and performance in this domain; it stands ready to achieve greater impact and it is well positioned to play a larger role in helping countries fulfil their priorities relative to Agenda 2030. For it to do so, it needs to work in a way that is bigger, better and smarter.
• Bigger: by mobilizing substantially more funds and resources for investment in rural areas;
• Better: by strengthening the quality of IFAD’s country programmes through innovation, knowledge-sharing, partnerships and policy engagement; and
• Smarter: by delivering development results in a cost-effective way that best responds to partner countries’ evolving needs.