Wednesday, June 10, 2009

U.N. aid for small farmers has increased

The agriculture arm of the United Nations says that funds for farming support has increased despite the global recession. The U. N. International Fund for Agricultural Development says they now have a 1.2 billion dollar budget to support small farmers.

From Reuters Alert Net, reporter Muchena Zigomo interviews the head of the IFAD, Kanayo Nwanze.

"On the contrary, the food crisis of 2007/08 brought back agriculture on the agenda, and there seems to be a feeling that agriculture is one of the ways out of this economic crisis," Nwanze told Reuters in an interview.

"We've just completed, in December, our replenishment for the 2010-2012 cycle and our members increased their pledges by 67 percent, so we're going to be able to move our portfolio to about $1 billion to $1.2 billion per year from about $700-$750 million per year," he said.

He said due to IFAD's ability to co-finance projects with the World Bank and other multilateral lenders, a total of about $7.5 billion would be available for small-scale farmers over the next three years.

Small subsistence farmers around the world have been hard hit by ballooning prices of seed and fertiliser, threatening billions of people with hunger. IFAD says small farms feed up to 2 billion people, about a third of the global population.

Nwanze said smallholder farms in Africa -- which account for 95 percent of the continent's agricultural output -- are among the worst affected by the price spikes.

"If we are able to increase support for small-scale farmers on this continent, then I think many countries (in Africa) will achieve (economic) growth and get on the road to ending poverty," he said.

"We have statistics from the World Bank to show that investment in agriculture is 2-4 times more effective in reducing poverty than any other sector."

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