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When I interviewed Willem Bettink - one of the co-organizers of the Second Global AgriKnowledge Share Fair just before he left for his well deserved summer holidays, I could not imagine that we would all have an intense working holiday.

As it turns out, those of us on the road and those in the office, have been glued to our computers, Blackberries and emails. And we've done so with gusto and pleasure!

So, you are wondering what the share fair steering committee is up to? Well, apart from being glued to our electronic devices, the organizing committee composed of colleagues from Bioversity, CGIAR, CTA, FAO, IFAD,and WFP,  is finalizing the share fair programme which promises to be an exciting four day event, taking place from 26-29 September 2011 at IFAD headquarters. 

We love suspense, so you need to wait a bit more to get the full-fledged programme, but in the meantime just to whet your appetite here are some of the highlights of this unique event:

  • a number of prominent personalities will share their inspiring experiences and insights 
  • colleagues from all over the world in over 150 sessions, will share their knowledge and wisdom on a variety of rural development and agriculture related topics such as: food security, climate change, environmental friendly innovations, emerging trends in use of ICTs, new technologies and innovative agricultural and farming practices, market access, water, livestock, knowledge sharing, networks and communities of practice
  • participants can benefit from numerous training sessions on knowledge sharing methods, social media tools, emerging trends and lessons learnt 
  • stunning art for AIDS exhibit
  • lots and lots of social reporting - you will see knowledge sharing methods and social media tools put to practice.... We WALK the TALK!!
We'll be webcasting the plenary sessions and a team of social reporters will bring you live this four day event. We'll be using a number of social media channels, such as Twitter, Facebook, Blogs and more. Make sure you follow #sfrome. 

And we hope to see you all in Rome. If you do not want to miss this event, please make sure you register. For now goodbye and good night. A presto as they say in Italian!

By Kanayo F Nwanze

Tomorrow, a conference on the crisis in the Horn of Africa sponsored by the African Union will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. African leaders will be discussing how to help the millions of people affected by the drought and resulting famine. This conference is a good sign and I commend the African Union for taking this initiative. As President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), I have said before that Africa should not wait for the international community to solve its problems. Africa will conquer hunger when African governments give Africans the tools and resources they need to feed themselves. Change – real change – comes from within.

As an African and as President of a United Nations agency dedicated to helping rural people lift themselves out of poverty, I am also keenly aware of the need for partnership in what is a massive undertaking. It is imperative to deliver emergency relief to those who desperately need it now. At the same time, we need to look towards the future and commit to making medium- and long-term investments.

Along with climatic shocks, developing countries are already struggling with rising and more volatile food prices as well as the challenge of feeding growing populations. If donors, development agencies and governments do not attend to the medium and long term, the kind of tragedy we are seeing in the Horn of Africa will happen again.

Recently I travelled to Ethiopia and Nigeria to meet with government leaders at the highest levels, and I came away seeing hope for Africa’s future. In Nigeria – one of Africa’s most populous countries, known for its oil wealth – I saw hope in the news that the government plans to make agriculture a priority.

I believe that African countries need to do more to ensure that agriculture is put at the top of the national agendas. Although development aid is key to Africa’s advancement, the countries themselves will ultimately have to take responsibility for their own development. No nation, no people ever had sustainable growth that sprang solely from external support. Africa’s development must be made in Africa, by Africans, for Africans. Every food crop must be fully rooted in its own soil to flourish. Change cannot be imposed from outside, it must be cultivated from within.

The Issue of Land in Argentina

Posted by Greg Benchwick Tuesday, August 9, 2011 0 comments

New IFAD-backed publication tackles land in Argentina
The purpose of 'The Issue of Land in Argentina' is to identify the central issues around land tenure and management in Argentina in light of the global changes in agriculture and rural territorial development.

In addition, a series of policy options are put forward to address the most conflict-ridden situations, keeping in mind the goals of equity and development.

The scope of this study encompasses a comprehensive analysis of the land dynamic. As well as seeking to achieve that ambitious objective, this study should be considered as input to a broader debate on such issues on the path to formulate a national land policy.

Land distribution, tenure and use are subjects of growing interest in Argentina given the prominence these kinds of issues have acquired in recent decades: the concentration of land by certain business concerns, purchases of vast parcels of land by urban and external investors, the displacement of small producers in agricultural areas, and new models of agricultural management dominated by leasing.

These are all issues of critical importance to Argentina, for two major reasons:

  1. Their scale is such that intervention and solutions are needed to ensure territorial equilibrium, social inclusion and environmental sustainability
  2. Such issues are a clear manifestation of a shift in the way land is organized and developed in Argentina and in the prevailing agricultural model.

Read the Executive Summary in English
The Issue of Land in Argentina

Understand Spanish? Read the entire study.
'La Problemática de la Tierra en Argentina'

Graph It!

Map It!

Publicación nueva ofrece un panorama de la situación de la tenencia de la tierra en Argentina
La tierra es el recurso natural primario para la seguridad alimentaria, la paz, el crecimiento y el progreso social y económico de cada país. En Argentina, la tierra se ha considerado durante mucho tiempo como un recurso prácticamente ilimitado. Sin embargo, cada vez con mayor frecuencia en los últimos años, los hechos han demostrado que hasta en Argentina existe una problemática ligada a la tenencia de la tierra.

Esta problemática se concretiza en la concentración de tierras en pocas manos, la compra de grandes extensiones por inversionistas urbanos e internacionales, el desalojo de agricultores familiares en áreas de cultivo y un nuevo modelo de gestión agrícola donde predomina el arrendamiento.

Gracias a una donación del Gobierno de Italia, el Fondo Internacional de Desarrollo Agrícola (FIDA), a pedido y en colaboración con el Ministerio de Agricultura, Ganadería y Pesca de la Nación, se hizo promotor de este análisis a través de expertos nacionales. El objetivo es ofrecerle al gobierno nacional y a las autoridades provinciales un panorama de la situación de la tenencia de la tierra en Argentina, al fin de fomentar un diálogo proactivo y abierto sobre políticas públicas que ofrezcan soluciones prácticas y sostenibles a los varios problemas de tenencia de la tierra en las diferentes regiones del país.

El proceso analítico ha puesto en evidencia un proceso de transformación muy importante en la estructura agraria argentina. Este cambio se refleja y manifiesta en el proceso de avance del agro-negocio sobre las lógicas de la agricultura familiar y la creciente demanda de tierras por parte de inversionistas que ven en la tierra un refugio para su capital, o por parte de habitantes de las ciudades que buscan en la tierra un estilo de vida diferente. Este proceso de cambio social y económico se evidencia en todo el país, aunque aún más en las regiones vinculadas a la producción de cereales y oleaginosas ligadas a la exportación y en aquellas con recursos naturales y turísticos importantes. En ausencia de regulaciones por parte del sector público, es probable que este proceso se vaya amplificando en los próximos años.

En esta publicación, se resume la problemática de la tierra en Argentina con un análisis profundo de los logros y desafíos relacionados con el tema de la tenencia. Se analiza la demanda, y el papel que desempeña la tierra en la transformación social y económica del país, buscando nuevas propuestas de políticas que favorezcan a la permanencia en el campo de los agricultores familiares.

Mientras es cierto que la agricultura mecanizada a grande escala puede coexistir con la agricultura familiar, la tierra puede ser un recurso poderoso de inclusión económica y social, en el esfuerzo de apoyar a los agricultores familiares para salir de la pobreza y tener la opción de vivir dignamente en sus regiones de origen, donde lo deseen.

Esperamos que este análisis pueda servir como insumo a un debate informado y a un proceso que desemboque en la definición de una política nacional de tierra en la Argentina.

'La Problemática de la Tierra en Argentina'



Paolo Silveri
Gerente de Programas en la Argentina

Fondo Internacional de Desarrollo Agrícola
Prólogo 'La Problemática de la Tierra en Argentina'

2000-2015, 15 years to end poverty. This is the historic promise 189 world leaders made at the United Nations Millennium Summit 2000 when they signed onto the Millennium Declaration and agreed to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). With less than three-and-half years to 2015, only a few countries are expected to meet achievements the goals. However, examples the from South Gansu province -- one of the poorest provinces in China -- showed that to move out from poverty, rural people do not need 15 years when given the right support. I had had the opportunity to be part of the IFAD delegation and met some of those rural in South Gansu who said “eradicate rural poverty… yes we can!!!!”

On 18 July, after a two-hour flight from Beijing, the IFAD delegation headed by the President of IFAD Kanayo F. Nwanze, landed in Lanzhou airport in the afternoon of 18 July. Upon arrival in Lanzhou, the delegation met with the provincial led by Vice Governor Ze Bazu for a briefing on the programme. The Vice Governor made a presentation on the overall situation of Gansu province and the status of the implementation and achievements of the IFAD supported South-Gansu Poverty Reduction Programme cofinanced by the Government of China and the World Food Programme (WFP). According to the local government, this programme is contributing to improve livelihood services for about 1.1 million poor farmers who live in an ecologically fragile and arid area where annual precipitation is merely about 300 mm each year. In the evening, the IFAD delegation was received by the Governor of Gansu Province Liu Weiping. Both sides reiterated the partnership in poverty reduction and agricultural and rural development in the province.
The programme covers 10 counties: Huining in Baiyin Prefecture, Longxi, Tongwei, Weiyuan and Zhangxian in Dingxi Prefecture and Dongxiang, Guanhe, Hezheng, Jishishan and Linxia in Linxia Autonomous Prefecture. It would take more than a month to visit the entire area covered by the programme. With limited time at our disposal, the Huining County was chosen for a visit. After listening to various briefing on the project, I could not wait to see the achievements of the project and meet with the beneficiaries to hear from them how this project has changed their life for the better.

Early in the morning of 19 July, a quick breakfast and check-out, we got in the mini-bus for a one-and-half hour ride. The first stop was a visit to the clinic built in thanks to this programme in Zhang Cheng Pu village. Through the programme, 63 years old Dr Li Lai Chang was trained to acquire new health care knowledge. The health care pamphlets were also distributed to villagers. This modern rural clinic has a room where Dr Li visits his patients and another room with two beds for seriously ill patients. When talking to Dr Li Lai Chang, he told us that he has been working as the village health doctor for more than 40 years, but thanks to the new clinic supported by IFAD, he can visit up 5,000 patients a year now.

From the clinic we moved to visit one household in the same village. The beneficiary brought us in his kitchen to show us that today he can cook and obtain electricity thanks to the biogas obtained from two pigs and two cows. In the courtyard of his house, he has a drinking water tank of 38 m3 or 38,000 litres. He collects rain water in the tank and with a simple solar dish made with small pieces of a mirror, he can boil water. It is simple technology and with all the sun Africa has, the African can use this simple and easy-to-make solar dish without cutting the trees for cooking. In 15 minutes, you have hot water and cannot touch the pot with hand. This simple technology can be transferred to rural areas in Africa that can help to preserve the trees. More than 80 biogas to cook and to get electricity, and 160 drinking water tanks were built in the village because of the programme. Before the programme, he told us, we would have to travel far from the village to get water. My quality of life is improving since I joined the programme, he continued. Our annual income was less than CNY 4per cent of Zhang Cheng Pu villagers use ,000 but today we have around CNY 18,000 he concluded.

From Zhang Cheng Pu, we moved to Jiao He village. Along the remote mountain road, could be seen beautiful kilometres of terraces where the farmers grow a variety of crops, including fodder crops to feed the animals for their livestock businesses. The IFAD supported programme has terraced 5,000 hectares of sloped land and constructed 4,905 underground irrigation tanks. Seventy-five kilometres of irrigation canals support food security when initially the Gansu Province has assisted with the terraces of 10 to 15 levels and is committed to terrace about 74 per cent of cultivable sloped land (around 3.1 million hectares) by 2012. Looking over those terraces the President of IFAD asked about rainfall in the area. The answer was 300 mm annual. This is very low when you compare it to Sahel, which has an average of 400 mm of annual rainfall. This arid land in Gansu is securing food for the farmers of our project areas here in China, I think to myself, when at the same time in the Sahel region and Horn of Africa there is a famine. If the rural farmers can make it, I think that Sahel, Horn of Africa and many African countries must learn from Chinese’s experiences. The technology that farmers use in Gansu is simple and cost less. IFAD has an important role to work with China on South-South Cooperation in transferring those simple technologies that I saw in Gansu over a few days to help African countries to feed themselves, even in arid and poor-land regions.

Finally, we arrived in Jiao He village. The local project staff briefed the delegation on the various activities and the components of the programme. We were informed that the programme is benefiting 54 per cent of women in the selected areas. It was also impressive to see how the number of the households participating in the programme evolved over time in terms of moving out of poverty over four years (2006-2010). When targeting the beneficiaries in 2005, the farmers were classified in four groups: A, B1, B2 and C. The households in groups C and B2 were the most vulnerable and considered as target audiences. In 2005, among the 600 households in the programme areas, 220 were in group C (which is the lowest category of the poorest of the poor) and 230 in B2 (which is the category before the C one) while group A, which is the category of the rich among the poor, has only 50 households. From 2006 until 2010, the number of poor households in the C group decreased while the group in category A increased. The A group of 50 households increased to 105. This is an indicator that the poorest household conditions are becoming better and they are moving out of the poverty.
We were also informed that the grain production has also increased in the programme areas. In 2005 the average per capita grain production increased from 246 kg to 328 kg in 2010.

The group of villagers of Jiao He were waiting for the IFAD delegation at the main square. It was a true festival. The women beneficiaries of the programme warmly welcome the IFAD team with gifts of the art crafts. You can see that the poverty has a dignity. The youngest beneficiaries of the programme, the students from a local school that was built as part of the programme, were also represented. One of their representatives, a 10-year-old girl with perfect English, introduced herself to the President and thanked IFAD for the new school. She joined her classmates in singing a song of friendship after her introduction. From the square, the delegation visited Li Guo Chin, one beneficiary. He received the delegation with a gift of boiled potatoes, fruits and tea. Mr Li joined the programme in 2007 when his annual income was about CNY 4, 4000 (USD$620). In 2008, he received a loan of CNY 10,000 (USD$1,550) for a livestock project. Today he has 100 goats and 40 cows and his annual income increased drastically to around CNY 80,000 (USD$12,500). He is now leading a livestock association and gives cows or goats to other villagers to raise. After, he pulls together all of the cows or goats raised by the villagers to sell for a profit. The profits are then divided among the members of the association based on how many cows or goats each one raised.

In two years, Li Guo Chin who earned less than USD$2 per day in 2006 is earning now USD$35 per day. This is a real challenge for the world leaders who set 15 years to half the number of people leaving in poverty. With the right investment and right ideas, Li Guo Chin in two years moved out from under extreme poverty. If Li can do it, many other rural farmers in developing countries can also stand and say “yes I can. Yes I want to move out of poverty”.

What I saw in South Gansu shows how resilient and committed the people themselves are; and how effective the programme is. It also shows how local leadership and government’s coordinated action, early investment in agriculture and continued support of the Chinese government to the rural South Gansu farmers; the use of appropriate technology; government and external investment; link with market ; hard work of farmers and the integrated approach of the programme (social, economic development and environment protection) play a crucial role and make the difference.

We do not need 15 years to move people out from under poverty. But the people from the developing world, and in particular African countries, have a lot to learn from China’s experience. Commitment of government and more importantly commitment and diligence from the beneficiaries, are the ways to quickly move people out of poverty. We should all sit up and take notice of these examples now before it is too late.

According to the information received from the provincial programme management team, the results in Huining County are similar in other nine counties. In Dongxiang County, Ma Taguo a farmer in Beizhuangwan village joined the project in 2008. He was trained and received the virus-free potato and planted the new variety in small piece of his land. He harvested 750 kg more potato on this small piece of land than the normal variety he planted and his income has increased by 10 per cent. Now Ma has decided to plant the new variety of potato on most of his land. For many farmers like Ma Taguo, the new variety of potato is helping to increase their food production as well as their income. Xie Shaowu, a farmer in Xiaozhai village in Linxia County, increased his production and his income by growing maize with the mulching technology introduced by the South-Gansu Poverty Reduction Programme.

These days, the famine in Horn of Africa is on all the screens of the TV and top news of various newspapers around the world. If the dry Gansu Province can feed its rural people, how come Sahel and Horn of Africa can’t?

South South: China’s experience as a development model

Posted by Roxanna Samii Tuesday, August 2, 2011 0 comments

By Thomas Elhaut

The benefits of South-South cooperation have started to see new light as emerging economies - notably China and India – are grabbing headlines as growing economic powers investing substantially larger amounts in Africa and Asia. Justifiably so, as together, the two countries account for one-fifth of the global economy and are projected to represent a full third of the world’s income by 2025.

While the financial crisis still casts a shadow over many countries, India's trade with Africa has jumped to US$40 billion in the past few years. In addition, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development estimated that, between 1996 and 2006, developing economies provided more than US$17 billion of foreign investment in Africa and $27 billion of investment in Asia.

Combine this with the rise in South-South trade and investment flows and the shift from the G8 to the G20 as the primary forum to tackle global economic issues, and it is clear that there is more to South-South cooperation than just as a driver for developing countries to share and learn from the practical experience of others.

Some have argued that the emerging economies can put the global economy on a higher growth trajectory. But this is overoptimistic, as the former have their own domestic challenges and their economic cycles remain vulnerable to and synchronised with the North. For example, while China’s performance in tackling food insecurity and malnutrition is laudable and sets a good example for other developing countries to emulate, there remain 150 million people living below the poverty line in the country.

A key concern for development agencies and policy makers is how to extend and sustain rapid expansion of South-South trade and investment flows in pursuit of lasting development gains. Tapping the potential of South-South economic relations requires more than passive reliance on market forces and private initiative. Creating policy space for government action and regional policy coordination is crucial.

There is a great need for investments to move food from countries rich in arable lands to those with growing numbers of consumers and little food production capacity. For this to happen agricultural markets and trade policies at the global, regional and sub-regional levels need urgent improvement and reform.

Investment and trade among developing countries should set a good example of how to create win-win solutions. But we must take it to the next level by discussing how policies, institutional conditions and the right kinds of environments can further promote successful South-South cooperation. Specifically, as incomes and demand for food have grown, agriculture has begun attracting substantially larger investment flows but the benefits to smallholders and others in some of the poorest recipient countries in the region (e.g. Laos and Cambodia) remain uncertain. It is imperative that these investments are geared better to serve local needs and strengthen production capacity.

Above all, competitive rivalry for scarce resources must turn into cooperative ventures with larger pay-offs to both emerging economic powers and those lagging behind. An over emphasis on short-term macro-economic balances must yield to a longer-term vision for shared growth and prosperity. A key lesson learnt from China and India’s success in poverty reduction is that domestic factors played a crucial role while market integration created new opportunities for growth. Fiscal decentralisation in China, for example, accelerated growth and poverty reduction.

In promoting South-South cooperation between China and other developing member countries of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and IFAD have so far organized two South-South events in September 2009 and November 2010 respectively. The forthcoming third event this month will offer a platform for policy exchange among senior officials from China and 15 developing countries in Asia and Africa.

South-South cooperation must be grounded in the questions of why and how policymakers can come together and share their successes and failures with each other and most importantly set guidelines that allow for investments to directly feed into development assistance so that those living on less than US$1.25 day don’t get left behind.

Partnership has always been central to IFAD’s business model. Our interest in South-South cooperation goes to the heart of strengthening our collaboration with the most important partners of all – namely poor rural people themselves.

Published on Poverty Matters Blog

Leveraging information and communications technologies

Posted by Greg Benchwick Monday, August 1, 2011 0 comments

Rural communities in Peru look toward technology and competition as a catalyst for rural development
What happens when you combine information and communication technology with grassroots development initiatives and good old fashioned free-market competition? For poor rural people in Peru, this winning combination is changing lives, one virtual network (and one computer) at a time.

The story goes back to 2007, when the Andean Regional Studies Centre Bartolome de Las Casas (CBC) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) began carrying out a project to facilitate access to information and communication technologies in the rural areas of Cusco and Puno, Peru.

“By building rural internet centres in various municipalities throughout Peru, this program is working to integrate families living in the remote corners of the country into the society as whole,” says IFAD’s Country Program Manager for Peru, Roberto Haudry. “These primarily indigenous communities have centuries of traditions, know-how and wisdom, but lacked the platforms to share this information freely – or to be part of the national discourse - so we began creating community information centres and grassroots networks to share these experiences.”

Taking advantage of the experience accumulated by IFAD in the Puno – Cusco Corredor and through the KUTIPAY trade promotion system, the program is being adapted and expanded within the IFAD-backed Sierra Sur and Sierra Norte projects in Peru.

“Overall, the experience developed by the project shows that the creation of information centres in these rural communities is a powerful tool to promote rural development and social inclusion,” Haudry says.

Competitive processes
But simply building a community centre does little to develop the ‘software’ that powers this information exchange. And in order to spur demand-driven development, the project looked toward the free-market.

This July, they hosted a competition designed to streamline information and communication technologies by providing co-financing to winning proposals. “The winning programs will enhance access to internet technologies, promote digital literacy, serve as an instrument for municipal transparency, and will facilitate learning and sharing between various groups,” Haudry says.

A look at the winning innovations

First Place: Innovation Audio-Visual Centre. A pilot project to develop a methodology for the strengthening of the Aymara identity within virtual spaces, presented by the Municipality of Socca Acora.

Second Place (tie):
Wireless Municipal Networks. Implementing a wireless network between educational institutions and the municipality, this project seeks to strengthen classroom teaching innovations with the implementation of computers and educational software, presented by the Municipality of Macari.

Second Place (tie):
Information Management. This project looked toward capacity building in information and communications technologies in the district of Pucyura.

Third Place: Community ITC. This will strengthen information and communication technologies in the community of Patabamba, district of Coya, Calca Province.

To see how these new initiatives are working throughout Peru, check out their new website at www.ticsurandino.net.

Speak Spanish? See how information systems are being leveraged throughout Peru in this CEPES study.

Graph It!

This graph from World Bank data shows how internet access has grown in Latin America over the past two decades.