Desertification and the Gum Arabic Tree (Acacia senegal)

Photo credit: Google

Women of Demira harvesting gum arabic growing on an acacia tree (IFAD)

Using Gum Arabic Trees To Combat Desert Encroachment

By Mamman Mohammed

The rising demand for Gum Arabic in the international market for the production of certain foods and beverages, pharmaceuticals, paints and polish, has made the plant a major foreign exchange earner for some countries in the Sub-Saharan region. For several countries, the Gum Arabic tree is not only a major player in the economy but also a viable plant that is used in designed efforts to deal with the menace of desertification.


Gum Arabic -
Gum Arabic –

The Gum Arabic tree serves as a wind breaker and it protects the soil against erosion, while aiding the soil to regain its fertility for agricultural production. The high resistance plant, which can withstand the arid climatic conditions of the Sub-Saharan region, is widely regarded as a viable economic resource and a veritable shield against environmental hazards. In Nigeria, desert encroachment has certainly threatened crop production and food security, particularly in the northern part of the country.

Read the full article: The Nigerian Observer

To raise income of small-scale farmers and increase their climate resilience

Photo credit: BBC

Georgia has a mix of rural charm and city modernity, as well as cultural influences from Turkey, Russia, Persia, Central Asia and Europe (

IFAD supports climate-smart technologies in Georgia for food security


Rome, 17 February 2015 – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) announced today a new nationwide project worth more than US$30 million to help small-scale farmers in Georgia raise their incomes and increase their climate resilience.

The agriculture sector in Georgia is highly vulnerable to the impact of climate change, which is leading to serious production losses and threats to food security. Increasing aridity is threatening to devastate the already semi-arid Eastern portions of Georgia by the end of the century.

The project will aim to address these challenges by supporting inclusive growth of climate-smart agricultural value chains. It will mainstream a climate-smart approach throughout its activities, driven by the needs of small-scale farmers.

The project will focus on rural families in areas where there is agricultural and irrigation development potential. It will primarily target smallholder farmers, but will also support others who are involved in agricultural value chains, including agricultural business people, cooperatives and extension and input service providers.

Read the full article: IFAD

Ghana and IFAD

Photo credit: Agricultural Investments

Agriculture – Approach to Youth Unemployment in Ghana

IFAD hails Ghana as farming success story


GHANA has in the past 35 years received $782,7 million International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to boost farming, President John Dramani Mahama disclosed.

The funds, making Ghana the third largest IFAD country programme in West and Central Africa region, have supported 17 projects and programmes.

The disclosure coincides with Ghana is currently undertaking the approval process for a $36 million Ghana Agricultural Sector Improvement Program (GASIP), which will strengthen the agricultural value chains in the country.

The country is working on the establishment of a Ghana Commodities Exchange to facilitate a warehouse receipts system for cereals and improve quality of products.

To encourage the youth to take up agriculture, the Youth in Agriculture Programme has been institutionalized in 2013 to bring out the nexus/connection between agriculture development and Ghana’s ability to achieve its food and nutrition security goals are inextricably linked.

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture seeks to encourage their participation in the agricultural sector.

Read the full article: CAJ News

Investments in rural transformation (IFAD)

Photo credit: IFAD

Farmers in their asparagus field, Attapeu province, Lao People’s Democratic Republic.


Rural transformation: Key to sustainable development


The 38th session of the Governing Council, IFAD’s annual meeting of Member States, will highlight rural transformation as a key to sustainable development. Here is one in a series of articles exploring that theme in the run-up to the meeting.

This year represents a critical juncture for global development. The process of defining new Sustainable Development Goals provides an opportunity to refocus policies, investments and partnerships for more inclusive, sustainable and people-centred development. Consultations on the post-2015 development agenda have already helped give shape to a shared vision: a world where extreme poverty has disappeared, everyone has access to adequate and nutritious food, decent jobs are available to all, and natural resources are preserved and restored.

Smallholder farmers and other rural people have enormous potential to help achieve this vision. Realizing their potential will require increasing productivity, as well as improving their access to markets, finance, technology and information to build more diversified and resilient rural economies. Poverty has multiple dimensions that go beyond low levels of income, consumption and material assets. This is why IFAD targets its investments towards rural transformation – a sustainable and comprehensive level of change that is social as well as economic.

Read the full article: IFAD

Drought never only has localized consequences

Photo credit: Pixabay

Refugee camp in Eritrea

Horn of Africa: The rains will fail in 2015, 2016, or 2017, but must we also fail?

The current drought in the Horn of Africa, the worst in the past 60 years, has governments in the region and the international donor community scrambling to raise additional funds for emergency relief and provide desperately required food, medical care and shelter to the affected populations in Somalia, southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya to address their dire immediate needs.

Drought in this part of the continent is not unknown and has been an increasingly frequent occurrence. Datelines change (2005, 2006, 2008 and now, 2011) but the stories of unimaginable hardship, death and depravation, while differing in magnitude from one drought to the next, remain much the same. Drought never only has localized consequences. Its effects cascade through countries in the form of higher food and fodder prices, civil unrest and diminished social services as governments redeploy budgets to meet the most pressing needs of their citizens.

These effects multiply the impact of the drought, dragging millions of families who had improved their living conditions back into poverty and deepening the hole of those fighting to climb out of poverty.

Although governments and their development partners cannot make the rains come, they can mitigate the impact of these recurring droughts in East Africa by helping farmers and herders build resilience to these inevitable meteorological occurrences. This is a cornerstone of the work the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in the region. Much greater investment in agricultural research, an area long neglected by both governments and donors, is essential to develop and diffuse drought and disease-resistant food and fodder crops which are better able to withstand moisture stress.

Read the full article: IFAD

New Theory Agriculture, focused on generating self-reliance in three levels (IFAD)

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“Grow what you eat, eat what you grow”, the self-reliant farming motto.

Developing Rural Territories through Business and Knowledge: The Thai experience with the OTOP and CLC

Thai rural development programs are implemented based on King Bhumibol Adulyadej ideas on economic development summarized in the so-called ‘Sufficiency Economy Philosophy’. Those principles are the base of the New Theory Agriculture, focused on generating self-reliance in three levels: the household, the community and the nation. Household self-reliance means a self-sustaining farm warrantying self-consumption based on a water pond, a field for crops to sell, and a house.

Hence, the farmer has access to markets while safely faces contingencies. “Grow what you eat, eat what you grow. Make what you use, use what you make.” But, beyond a very respected royal philosophy, Thai public policies for rural development support a national network of Local Scholars, or “Pratch Chao Bann”, who manage and develop Community Learning Centers (CLCs) in order to down-streaming the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy. Among many other public and private services at village, sub district and district levels that looking for citizen empowerment through self-management of the financial, natural and cultural resources of the Nation.


People being food insecure are most vulnerable to extreme weather events (IFAD)

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How does climate change alter the way we manage agriculture for food security?

Posted by Marjolein van Gelder

One year after the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) published a report on Food Security and Climate Change, the two spheres of climate change and food security have come closer together. Previously, Climate Change was e a topic mainly discussed by the countries with high carbon emissions and the focus was solely on mitigation. On the other hand, food security always focused on the world’s poor – often living in countries with low emissions profiles. The panel, which conducts research and advises the Committee on Food Security (CFS), seeks to bridge these two issues. A side event, which was held at the CFS, discussed the importance of bringing together both worlds and showed how far this has been progressed.

The importance of mixing both worlds comes from the fact that the people who are most food insecure, are also the ones who are most vulnerable to extreme weather events, caused by climate change.


Fostering inclusive growth means investing in agriculture to pay dividends in poverty reduction (IFAD)

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Less Hunger, But Not Good Enough

By José Graziano da Silva, Kanayo Nwanze, and Ertharin Cousin

Every year, we take a snapshot of world progress in the fight against chronic hunger. This year, the picture is looking better, but it’s still not good enough.

Some 842 million people are estimated to have been suffering from chronic hunger in 2011-2013, according to The State of Food Insecurity in the World, a report released jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

This figure is down from 868 million during 2010-2012, and represents a decline of 17 percent since 1990-1992. Significant as this progress may be, it cannot disguise the harsh reality: roughly one person in eight suffers from hunger.

The vast majority of undernourished people, 827 million, live in developing countries, while 16 million live in developed countries. It is unacceptable that in a world of plenty, hundreds of millions of people are denied their most basic right to freedom from hunger. The only acceptable number is zero.

One of the hard truths underscored by the report is that, despite overall progress made in hunger reduction, marked differences persist across regions, with many countries left far behind. Sub-Saharan Africa has made modest progress in recent years, but remains the region with the highest prevalence of undernourishment (24.8 percent).

Western Asia has seen no discernible improvement, while Southern Asia and Northern Africa have registered slow progress. Eastern Asia, Southeastern Asia and Latin America, on the other hand, have seen greater relief from the grind of extreme hunger, with significant reductions in both the number and the proportion of hungry people.

Food security depends on a host of factors. While food availability is important, it is equitable economic growth and access to employment for the poor that enhance access to nutritious food. The report shows that transport, communication, safe water, sanitation, and appropriate healthcare and feeding practices are also crucial for reducing chronic hunger and undernutrition.

Given that 75 percent of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas and mainly depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, fostering inclusive growth means investing in agriculture. And this investment has been shown to pay dividends in poverty reduction.


Le rôle capital de l’arbre dans les champs agricoles au Sahel (IFAD)

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La multifonctionnalité des arbres dans le Sahel ouest africain

par Ilaria Firmian

Ma mission de la semaine dernière dans le Sahel ouest africain pour la supervision d’un don FIDA a été l’occasion une nouvelle fois de mettre en évidence le rôle capital de l’arbre dans les champs agricoles. Le don objet de la supervision s’intitule «Les arbres des parcs agroforestiers et les moyens de subsistance: adaptation aux changements climatiques dans le Sahel ouest-africain».

Il est géré par l’ICRAF (World Agroforestry Center) et mis en œuvre au Burkina Faso, Mali et Niger par les instituts nationaux de recherches agricoles en collaboration avec les équipes de quatre projets d’investissement financés par le FIDA dans les trois pays.

Le but général du projet est 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’entreprises communautaires.

Les parcs agroforestiers sont des mélanges d’arbres que les paysans choisissent pour certaines fonctions et cultivent en combinaison avec des cultures vivrières de base telles que le petit mil et le sorgho. Dans le Sahel ouest-africain, les communautés rurales utilisent plus de 115 espèces locales d’arbres à différentes fins : alimentation humaine, fourrage, médicaments, bois de feu, bois de construction, outillage agricole et ménager, sculptures, instruments musicaux, fibres, etc… ces arbres rendent également des services environnementaux essentiels comme l’amélioration de la fertilité du sol, la conservation des sols et de l’eau, la création d’un microclimat etc.). Beaucoup d’ espèces d’arbres contribuent ainsi au revenu familial. Cependant, plusieurs d’entre elles sont en voie de disparition au niveau local faute de gestion appropriée et en raison du climat de plus en plus chaud et sec.

Les visites de terrain confirment magnifiquement ce  qu’indiquent les rapports à savoir  le rôle crucial que jouent les arbres dans la réduction de la vulnérabilité, le renforcement de la résistance des systèmes agricoles et la protection des ménages pauvres contre les risques liés aux changements climatiques. Les arbres grâce à leur système racinaire parfois très profond, mobilisent d’importantes réserves d’hydrate de carbone, et sont, par conséquent, moins vulnérables que les cultures annuelles à la sécheresse et aux fluctuations des niveaux de pluie d’une année à une autre.


Water is a precious resource, cause of civil unrest and conflict (IFAS)

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Need to be innovative if you don’t want a dry future….

Posted by Maria Elena

We all know how critical water is for our survival and for the survival of our planet. For poor rural people water is a an extremely precious resource that has also been the cause of civil unrest and conflict.

As you dig into just a few UN water statistics:

  • 780 million people do not have access to water (equivalent to 2 ½ times the population of the USA),
  • women spend a total of 200 million hours a day to collect water (enough to build 28 Empire State Buildings every day),
  • by 2050 there will be 9 billion people to feed which means we will need 60% more food and 19% more agricultural water will be used up,

it comes to no surprise that there is great concern about the world’s food and water security.

Given the increased need that there will be for more food and water, worsened by the effects of climate change, we undoubtedly have to be innovative about how efficiently we use the water we have combined with good agricultural practices and good policies.

In IFAD we manage a large water portfolio with about two-thirds of our projects dealing with community-based natural resource management and about half involving water resource management as well as supporting innovative research programme in water for poor rural people.


IFAD’s 2012 Annual Report

ROME, 28 June 2013 – Last year millions of poor rural people built better lives for themselves and their families with support from IFAD and our partners. You can read some of their inspiring stories in the just-released 2012 IFAD Annual Report <> .

Available in Arabic <> , English <> , French <>  or Spanish <> , the report provides a region-by-region review of our work and achievements in 2012. As part of our commitment to transparency and reporting on results, the Annual Report gives the facts and figures <>  behind our work.

In 2012, IFAD’s ongoing portfolio of working programmes and projects continued to grow. The number of projects worldwide rose from 240 in 2011 to 255 last year. Including IFAD funds and external and domestic cofinancing, total investments in ongoing initiatives rose by over 50 per cent between 2009 and 2012, from US$7.9 billion to US$11.9 billion.

Beyond the numbers, the report spotlights the stories that show the human face of rural development.

Funds direct to farmers – a pioneering approach
In Guinea, we are pioneering a radical new approach to give development funds directly to farmers through a new programme focused on value chains <> . This innovation is possible because of Guinea’s strong and dynamic National Confederation of Farmers’ Organizations. Connecting farmers to value chains fosters economic growth, increases agricultural exports and decreases imports.

Tackling the challenges of climate change
Enabling smallholder farmers and other poor rural producers to become more resilient in the face of changing weather patterns is now a key part of our work. In 2012, we launched our new Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) <>  with support from major donors. The programme aims to reach about 8 million smallholder farmers with new tools and knowledge. The first project with ASAP funding <>  was approved for Mozambique, focusing on value chains in the Maputo and Limpopo corridors.


Reclamation of 47,000 hectares of productive land and substantial growth in economic opportunities (IISD)

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IFAD to Continue Land and Water Management Projects in the Gambia

As part of a series of long-term investments in the Gambia, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is celebrating the successful closure of the Participatory Integrated Watershed Management Project (PIWAMP) and the scaling up of its successor, the National Agricultural Land and Water Management Development Project (Nema).

IFAD highlights that PIWAMP created new access to land and infrastructure in communities that were previously cut off from fields during the rainy season. They described an increase of maize, millet, peanut and sorghum production and a doubling of household food security. The program’s construction of dikes and spillways resulted in the reclamation of 47,000 hectares of productive land. Access between communities and fields resulted in substantial growth in economic opportunities.

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