IFAD was one of the major outcomes of the 1974 World Food Conference. The conference was organized by the United Nations in response to the food crises of the early 1970s, when global food shortages were causing widespread famine and malnutrition, primarily in the Sahelian countries of Africa. World leaders realized that food insecurity and famine were not so much failures in food production but structural problems relating to poverty. This was compounded by the fact that the majority of the developing world’s poor people lived in rural areas.
In response to these complex challenges, it was decided that an “an International Fund for Development should be established immediately to finance agricultural development projects, primarily for food production in the developing countries … The Fund shall provide financing primarily for projects and programmes specifically designed to introduce, expand or improve food production systems and to strengthen related policies and institutions …”
Three years after the Rome conference, IFAD which stands for The International Fund for Agricultural Development was set up as an international financial institution in 1977.
What does IFAD do?
IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, IFAD has provided about US$18 billion in grants and low interest loans to projects that have reached some 462 million people globally.
IFAD’s Strategic Framework 2016-2025 sets out how we will work over the coming decade in order to play a crucial role in the inclusive and sustainable transformation of rural areas. It articulates our contribution to the 2030 Agenda, including the larger role IFAD will play in supporting countries to fulfil their priorities relative to the Agenda.
The framework outlines that we will work in ways that are bigger, better and smarter: bigger, by mobilizing and leveraging substantially greater investment in rural areas; better, by strengthening the quality of countries’ rural development programmes; and smarter, by further sharpening our efficiency and delivering results in a more cost-effective way.
The Framework sets 3 strategic objectives:
1) increasing the productive capacity of poor rural people
2) increasing their benefits from market participation
3) strengthening the environmental sustainability and climate resilience of their economic activities.
IFAD in India
IFAD has been working in India since 1979. The current country strategy aims to increase the rural poor’s access to agricultural technologies, natural resources, financial services and value chains. A major cross-cutting objective is to share knowledge and learning on poverty reduction and nutrition security – with a focus on tribal communities, smallholder farming households, landless people, women and unemployed youth.
IFAD is working at the grass-roots level, targeting its activities to the poorest and most vulnerable groups in rural society, such as small-scale and marginal farmers, women, tribal communities and scheduled castes.
Strategy for India
IFAD has been working in India for more than 30 years. The current country strategic opportunities programme is fully aligned with the Indian government’s policy framework of doubling farmers’ incomes in real terms by 2022. During the period 2018-2024, IFAD will support the government’s efforts in developing necessary services and producers’ organizations to render smallholder food and agricultural production systems remunerative, sustainable and resilient to climate change and price shocks.
Their projects have consistently tackled structural issues such as socio-cultural exclusion, lack of access to natural resources, agricultural land and quality public services, as well as market asymmetry and weak bargaining power of smallholder producers.
Over the years, IFAD and the Government of India have achieved significant results investing in the commercialization of smallholder agriculture and building small farmers’ capacity to increase incomes from market opportunities. These projects facilitate innovative partnerships between farmers and private-sector companies. As a result, farmers are acquiring improved technical packages, achieving higher yields, and obtaining better prices for their produce.
IFAD’s focus is on strengthening people’s ability to manage their own development. Its approach features a fully participatory planning and implementation process, reflecting indigenous knowledge and taking into account participants’ capacities and interests. Through IFAD’s investment in grassroots organizations such as self-help groups, and our support for the federation of such groups over time, rural poor people have gained greater bargaining power for access to services, inputs and markets.
Projects empower women to participate in decision-making and resource allocation in rural communities. Women’s groups such as the Courage Brigades (Shaurya Dal) formed to reduce gender-based violence, change social attitudes and enable women to start up small businesses, have proved their effectiveness. IFAD-supported projects have also provided women with access to financial services, such as by linking women’s self-help groups with commercial banks.
IFAD also works with tribal communities, typically located in the most remote, underdeveloped areas of the country. Projects have helped them better their livelihoods by improving their natural resource management, access to land, agricultural production and vocational skills.
The completion review for the 2010-2017 programmes confirms that IFAD-supported projects have had several important successes. In supporting smallholder farmers, projects have brokered partnerships between government and civil society organizations for last mile delivery of public services to remote and marginalized groups. In doing so, they have ensured convergence with government development schemes. They have also promoted community ownership of those services; supported a range of technologies and practices to enhance productivity, sustainability and resilience; promoted the diversification of agricultural enterprises; and supported aggregation of demand (for inputs) and supply (of produce).
IFAD’s Ongoing Projects in India
1. Jharkhand Tribal Empowerment and Livelihoods Project
Duration: 2012 – 2021
Total Project Cost: US$ 104.09 million
IFAD Financing: US$ 39.5 million
This project comes as a direct response to a formal request from the Government of India to scale up successful tribal development programmes in the State of Jharkhand, based on a concept note prepared by the Government of Jharkhand.
The overall project goal is to improve the living conditions of tribal communities, especially primitive tribal groups (PTGs), across Jharkhand. Specifically, the project aims to empower and enable 136,000 tribal households, including 10,000 PTG (primitive tribal group) households, to take up livelihood options based on sustainable and equitable use of natural resources. To that end, project activities involve community empowerment, integrated natural resource management and livelihoods support.
Jharkhand has a population of 33 million, of whom 26% are members of scheduled tribes and 78% are rural. The project is being implemented in 14 districts in the state, focusing on approximately 30 sub-districts that have a rural tribal population of more than 50% and at least half the population living below the poverty line.
Duration: 2021 – 2027
Total Project Cost: US$ 238.69 million
IFAD Financing: US$ 67 million
The Chhattisgarh Inclusive Rural & Accelerated Agriculture Growth project development objective is to improve income opportunities and the availability of nutritious foods in the targeted households of the tribal-dominated areas of Chhattisgarh.
The project is being implemented across 25 blocks in 14 districts: Bastar, Narayanpur, Kanker, Bijapur, Sukma, Kondagaon and Dantewada in the southern region; Mungeli and Baloda Bazar in the central region; and Surguja, Koriya, Surajpur, Balrampur and Jashpur in the northern region.
3. Andhra Pradesh Drought Mitigation Project
Duration: 2016 – 2022
Total Project Cost: US$ 107.34 million
IFAD Financing: US$ 34 million
Smallholders in the Prakasam area and Rayalseema region of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh are affected by vulnerability to drought and depletion of groundwater resources, especially in a context of climate change and climate variability.
The Andhra Pradesh Drought Mitigation Project strategy has two main aims:
i) improvement of farmers’ capacity to adapt to drought, through more efficient crop water management and income diversification into livestock
ii) management of existing water resources, through building Gram Panchayat’s capacity regarding water planning and monitoring activities.
This project by IFAD aims improve farmers’ practices in using and producing drought-tolerant crop varieties, as well as in managing soil fertility and moisture. Farmers are also assisted in accessing weather information, crop advisories and field schools, with the goal of helping them shift toward less water-intensive and more diversified and profitable cropping systems. Livestock production systems are being improved by helping sheep producers access better housing, feeding and breeding, as well as through a backyard poultry scheme targeted at the poorest women.
Duration: 2014 – 2022
Total Project Cost: US$ 169.9 million
IFAD Financing: US$ 50.06 million
Livelihoods and Access to Markets Project or LAMP has been designed to be fully aligned and integrated with state government plans for river basin development in Meghalaya. The project will directly support the strategic objectives of the results-based country strategic opportunities programme (RB-COSOP):
i) increased access to agricultural technologies and natural resources
ii) increased access to financial services and value chains.
The project is designed to cover the entire State of Meghalaya, with enterprise facilitation centres (EFCs) in all of its 39 blocks (subdistricts) supporting around 47,400 enterprises over the eight-year project period. A total of 54 clusters for development of natural resources, food security and marketable crops are being established in 18 blocks, with about 75 villages (about half of all villages) in each block, making a total of 1,350 villages.
The project’s target groups include tribal communities, which form nearly the total population to be covered by the project; women, particularly those in remote areas; rural young people; and households living below the poverty line within selected areas. The project adopts specific targeting strategies for each of these groups to ensure that those most vulnerable and marginalized are not left out of project coverage.
Duration: 2017 – 2024
Total Project Cost: US$ 161.71 million
IFAD Financing: US$ 69.75 million
In India, the farmers of the states of Mizoram and Nagaland in the North-Eastern Region have been using a shifting cultivation system known as jhum. Although the jhum has met the needs of rural communities as a source of food, fibre and energy, it has become unsustainable due to increasing population numbers, soil fertility degradation, topsoil erosion, changing climate patterns and a shift in focus to include producing high-value crops for increased incomes.
Because 60% of the area under food grain cultivation in these regions is covered by the jhum system, there is a great need for development in farming technologies and practices.
The Fostering Climate-resilient Upland Farming Systems (FOCUS) project is designed to:
i) provide farmers with better jhum cultivation practices that will be both more productive and more sustainable, thus creating an ecological balance, enhancing resilience to climate change, and raising farmers’ incomes
ii) assist jhumia households to adopt alternative farming systems, particularly settled farming
iii) support improved market access and value chain development as farmers move to more market-oriented production
The project will focus on communities in the hills of both Mizoram and Nagaland. A total of 201,500 households will directly benefit from the project, most of these being members of tribal villages.
6. Empowerment of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups in Odisha
Duration: 2015 – 2024
Total Project Cost: US$ 130.4 million
IFAD Financing: US$ 51.21 million
The overall goal of the programme is to achieve better living conditions and to reduce poverty for the most vulnerable in Odisha’s heavily forested Eastern Ghats and Northern Plateau regions. Tribal populations living in the target area derive their livelihood from shifting cultivation, rainfed agriculture and from gathering non-timber forest products (NTFPs). Farming practices are basic, and mostly include growing rainfed rice and millet. Many tribal people are landless.
The programme aims to improve the livelihoods and food and nutrition security for over 62,000 households.