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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 04 October 2012

The EU and the International Fund for Agricultural Development sign a partnership to improve sustainable agriculture

Today in Brussels, European Union Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs and the President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Kanayo F. Nwanze, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to further strengthen the cooperation between the EU and IFAD on agriculture.

Through this enhanced partnership, the EU and IFAD will jointly address challenges in sustainable agriculture and food and nutrition security, in order to reduce poverty in rural communities in developing countries. Priorities lie in developing technologies for sustainable agricultural intensification (i.e. increasing production by using resources more efficiently) and promoting innovative rural financing mechanisms (like private-public funding facilities) that primarily benefit women and men smallholder farmers. Other focus areas are providing assistance for small farmers to adapt to climate change and securing equitable access to land. An example of this partnership is the Support to Farmers Organisations in Africa Programme, co-financed by the EU (EUR 5 Mio) and the IFAD (USD 1.5 Mio). This programme contributed to strengthen Farmer Organisations and to enable them to influence policies so that smallholders' needs are better taken into account. A follow-up programme (Farmers Africa) is being designed with an EU financing of 26.9 Mio EUR, in order to build on the first results.

Commissioner Piebalgs stated: "With the need to double food production by 2025, the world is facing a tremendous challenge to which we can only respond by investing properly in agriculture. Agriculture is also key to inclusive growth, as we have said in our Agenda for Change. I am therefore delighted that we will work as partners on this. Joining forces will enable us to better achieve sustainable small scale agriculture and build resilience in developing countries."

President Nwanze said: “Partnership has always been central to IFAD’s business model. The European Union has been a strong partner for us over the years, for example in agricultural research and the Food Facility. IFAD has long recognised that when rural women and men are supported with productive resources, and when they are empowered, they can be the agents of sustainable and lasting change. Today’s agreement is a concrete step in scaling-up our joint efforts towards creating the conditions in which poor rural people can not only feed themselves, but can also help feed the more than 9 billion people who will inhabit our planet by 2050.”


The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) works with poor rural people to enable them to grow and sell more food, increase their incomes and determine the direction of their own lives. Since 1978, IFAD has invested almost US$14 billion in grants and low-interest loans to developing countries through projects empowering about 400 million people to break out of poverty, thereby helping to create vibrant rural communities. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized UN agency based in Rome – the United Nations’ food and agriculture hub. It is a unique partnership of 168 members from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), other developing countries and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

On 27 June 2011, EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, and European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva, signed a Statement of Intent on Programmatic cooperation on Food Security and Nutrition with the heads of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), IFAD and the World Food Programme (WFP) to further improve cooperation between the EU and these Rome based Agencies. Today's Memorandum of Understanding is a direct follow-up to this initiative.

The European Commission invests around € 1 billion in agriculture and food and nutrition security every year. It has pledged to reduce the number of stunted children (those who haven't grown and developed enough due to a lack of access to the right sort of food) by at least 7 million through its development programmes by 2025.

The EU believes that part of the solution to the food and nutrition challenge lies in helping countries to capitalise on their potential for increased agricultural production, particularly in Africa. Agricultural growth represents a crucial remedy to hunger and poverty.

For further information

Website of the European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs:

Website of EuropeAid Development and Cooperation DG:

IFAD website

Contacts :

Catherine Ray (+32 2 296 99 21)

Wojtek Talko (+32 2 297 85 51)

David Florentin Paqui (+39 0 654592213 / +39 3 357516406)

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