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The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is a financial institution established in Rome in 1977, following the decision of the 1974 International Food Conference to set up a UN specialized agency with the mandate, the sole among financial institutions, to eradicate poverty and hunger in developing countries’ rural areas and to distribute financial resources, granted on favorable terms, to vulnerable populations.
Through programmes of local development, realized in close collaboration with beneficiary countries’ Governments and with the involvement of local actors, IFAD aims at scaling up productivity and income of rural populations, thus easing their access to inclusive financial services, to natural resources, to agricultural technology and to markets.
Furthermore, IFAD programmes always pay attention to the role of women that, although carrying out the most part of the agricultural work, too often are denied equal access to opportunities and resources. About the half of the Fund initiatives’ beneficiaries are women.
In order to help rural populations developing adaptability to climate change, often compromising natural resources from which those populations depend, IFAD also adopted a strategy aiming at contrasting the effect of climate change and at maximizing the impact of the Fund activities within a changeable climate context. IFAD strategy in this sector foresees: 1) diversified production, 2) integrated agriculture and agro-forestry systems and, 3) improvement of the post-harvest management.
In the framework of the 2030 Agenda, for the period 2016-2025, the strategic guidelines that will lead IFAD action are described in the document “IFAD Strategic Framework 2016-2025”. (

IFAD is the result of a global partnership among OCSE, OPEC and developing countries and its members amount to 176.
Even though Member States still remain the principle partners of the Fund, nevertheless IFAD has undertaken a partnership consolidation and development process also with Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), private sector and other UN agencies (FAO and WFP) which constitute, in the agri-food sector, a true UN system that Italy hosts in Rome.
Moreover, through contributes and technical assistance, IFAD also takes part to the following nets and platforms in the field of agricultural development:
Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD): this advisory group, launched in 2008 during the fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), encompass bilateral and multilateral donors, African and international institutions. Its main purpose is to increase African rice production by 2018 and bring it up to 14 million tons.
Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR): this net, composed of fifteen international agriculture research centers, aims at promoting sustainable agriculture leading to food security in developing countries.
Global Donor Platform for Rural Development (GDPRD): this platform, composed of bilateral and multilateral donors, is devoted to the strengthening of GDPRD states’ capability to provide effective support for agriculture and rural development. The Italian Cooperation adheres, through IFAD, to this Platform and, in 2017, has granted 52,000 Euro.
Platform for Agricultural Risk Management (PARM): This platform was created in 2014 as a result of the debate on food security and agricultural development held within the G8 and G20. The PARM is a four-year initiative aiming at simplifying the identification, evaluation, quantification and the management of agricultural risks in partner countries. PARM’s Secretariat is hosted at IFAD headquarter.
Weather Risk Management Facility (WRMF): This initiative, launched in 2008 with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, focuses on supporting effective management instruments to combat climate change and foster disaster risk reduction.

The Fund is composed as follows:
The President: The President, who provides leadership and presides over the Executive Council. The President is appointed by the Governing Council for four years. Togolese Gilbert F. Houngbo is a first-term President.
The Governing Council: The Council is the governing body and it meets once a year together with the member states. Among its tasks, besides the nomination of the President, also the approval of the guidelines and the Executive Board’s decisions.
The Executive Board: It is composed of 18 member countries and 18 substitute countries, elected for three years. The Board, that meets three times a year, adopts the main Funds’ policies and resolutions and submits them to the Governing Council for the approval.
IFAD Staff currently employs more than 500 people, of which some 29% are Italian.

IFAD is, at the same time, financial institution and UN agency.
IFAD financial resources come from, in particular: 1) its own initial capital, 2) investment income, 3) recovery of loans disbursement and, 4) member states and multilateral institutions contributions that may be used both as resources replenishment or as additional funding.
Funds’ replenishments take place every three years.
The tenth resources replenishment is currently taking place (2016-2018) and the IFAD Programme of Loans And Grants (POLG) is equal to USD 3,2 billion, of which 875 million refer to POLG for the year 2018. The eleventh resources replenishment (2019-2021) ends in February 2018.
IFAD also have a grant programme, a tool to provide grants for activities that strengthen technical and institutional abilities for the beneficiaries’ agricultural and rural development.
When it comes to the resources in the form of loans to beneficiaries, IFAD uses a performance-based system for its allocation, the so called Performance-Based Allocation System (PBAS), as in the case of other financial development institutions. The will to increase IFAD resources’ effectiveness and to set up a transparent allocation procedure is among PBAS priorities.
From 1978 (operations start date) to 2018, the Fund has invested more than USD 17 billion in 1,307 programmes and projects, thus ensuring low-interest loans and donations to 464 million smallholders farmers in development areas.

Thanks to a cumulative total of USD 549 million (of which 85 million refer to the tenth resources replenishment) from 1977 to now, Italy is the fifth major contributor of IFAD. This amount also encompasses the USD 40 million contribution destined to the Special Programme for Africa, promoted by the Fund in 1985 in order to support rural agriculture.
In 1994, thanks to an additional contribution of USD 53 million, Italy has financed more than 220 initiatives and allowed the mobilization of further USD 470 million of co-financing.