Your Excellency Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed
Minister Obeid Humaid Al Tayer
Mr Bin Obaid Al-Mazrouei,
Honourable delegates and guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a privilege to be here with you today. IFAD is proud to be a partner in this event, which brings together so many key players from government, development, the private sector, and academia.
I would like to express my deep gratitude to the Arab Authority for Agricultural Investment and Development, the government of the United Arab Emirates/Abu Dhabi, and the sponsors -- including the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, and the Food Security Centre of Abu Dhabi.
These meetings are essential for enhancing our collaboration and effectiveness. They provide a platform for us to share ideas, learn from each other and explore new avenues for development.
For those of you not familiar with the International Fund for Agricultural Development, or IFAD, the first thing you should know is that IFAD is both an International Financial Institution and a specialized agency of the United Nations.
This makes us not only different, but also unique.
IFAD is the only development-oriented institution in existence that combines an IFI's tough head for business with a UN agency's soft heart for people.
For almost 40 years, IFAD has been dedicated to reducing rural poverty and hunger. We function as a respected broker -- mobilizing investments from government, donors, the private sector and other partners for projects that support sustainable and inclusive development.ho knowledge, and the trust of the[KZ2] government and poor communities we work with.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The United Arab Emirates has an admirable history as a donor, and was an early and supporter of IFAD. In 2013, UAE was noted as the most generous provider of foreign aid in the world. This is something to be proud of!
But how much of this money is going to agriculture? How much of it is going to pro-poor research?
The benefits of agricultural development are irrefutable.
We know that GDP growth due to agriculture is at least three times more effective in reducing poverty than growth in other sectors. In sub-Saharan Africa, it is estimated at 11 times more effective.
And there is is evidence that every dollar spent on agricultural research generates $9 in additional food for developing countries.
The benefits go far beyond IFAD's target group of smallholder farmers in developing countries. For example, research into salt-tolerant forage in marginal areas by ICBA generated seeds that were distributed in Oman, and here in the Emirates.
If we truly wish to enhance Food Security and Support Small and Medium Scale Farmers, then we must ensure our investment money is going where it is most needed.
Smallholder farmers produce 80 per cent of the developing world's food, but too often it is the farmers and their children who go hungry. Around half of all undernourished children live on farms.
Small farms are key to global food security — not only today, but for tomorrow. At IFAD, we have seen time and time again that with the right investments -- the links the markets, the infrastucture, the appropriate technologies -- smallholders can produce more and produce it better, and their businesses can thrive.
And more than that, when smallholder agriculture is profitable and environmentally sustainable, it transforms rural areas while lifting millions out of poverty.
This rural transformation is essential if we want to tackle the income inequality that leads to slower, less sustainable economic growth. An inequality that also threatens the social order.
We must remember that poverty is first and foremost found in rural areas. They are home to 75 per cent of the world's poorest people.
We need to transform these areas so they provide decent jobs, decent conditions and decent opportunities. So that developing nations can have balanced growth, and so that rural youth can find decent employment near home instead instead of searching for work in distant cities.
We do not need bigger cities with bigger slums.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me share with you IFAD’s three secrets for inclusive and sustainable development.
The first is to respect the dignity and foster ownership of project participants. Hand-outs do not build strong communities or nations. IFAD is trusted by millions of small family farmers the world over because they are our starting point. They contribute to project design. They invest their time and even their own money in projects. And they have seen the results --- higher production, better income, better nutrition and better lives.
In Yemen, for example, women have invested their own money in a domestic water scheme which saves them 300 hours a year collecting water. The project has also introduced new crop varieties and drip irrigation. Household food security has improved. Rates of child malnutrition have fallen. And participants report a significant reduction in violent conflict in the area.
The second secret to success is investing in young people. Vibrant rural economies need energetic and enthusiastic young people. And we will need our young people of today to be the farmers of tomorrow.
Today’s generation of young people is the largest in history. We need rural areas to provide them with opportunity and employment.
But the youth of today are justifiably alienated from farming and their rural communities. Why would a young woman or man wish to remain in a village without electricity or running water? Where there is no health clinic? When there is no prospect for employment beyond back-breaking labour in the field with implements used by their grandparents?
We must invest in infrastructure -- the roads, clean water, electricity and internet connection -- so that farmers can farm more efficiently and so that the rural space is more attractive to young people.
My third and final secret for success is that development must be done in partnership between producers and the public and private sectors. What we call the four Ps.
These are partnerships that bring together the interests of all parties in ways that are mutually beneficial, equitable and transparent. And they work!
In partnership, governments can create favourable policy environments and provide vital infrastructure.
And in partnership, we can build relationships between small-scale producers and private companies that are inclusive and sustainable. After all, farming is a business, no matter the scale or size.
In this way smallholders are better positioned to benefit from existing markets and new markets alike.
The private sector gains on the supply side and farmers benefit from links to secure markets, as well as gaining access to technology, services and knowledge.
Later today, we will give you a concrete example of IFAD’s experience with a 4P partnership in Egypt, which has helped some 250,000 people, including 150,000 previously unemployed graduates, improve their production and hook into the export market. Today they have contracts with some of the world’s biggest companies including H.J. Heinz, and farm gate prices have risen by 33 per cent.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let us remember that today 800 million women, children and men are chronically undernourished. That 160 million children under the age of 5 are stunted.
But there is no need for this level of hunger – not today, and not even when the world population passes 9 billion.
If invest intelligently and strategically in the rural space, and the smallholder farmers who live there, we can not only improve the world's food security, but make a true and lasting difference to poverty levels. I think you will agree this is a win-win situation for all of us.