IFAD Vice-President calls for strong leadership to address root causes of hunger and rural poverty at Berlin Agriculture Ministers’ Conference

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By Panagrimedia Correspondent, January 22, 2024,  As the climate crisis intensifies and multiple conflicts increase global instability, visionary and committed political leadership is more crucial than ever to address the root causes of hunger, extreme poverty, and inequitable food systems, warned Gérardine Mukeshimana, Vice-President of the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), at the Berlin Agriculture’s Ministers Conference of the 16th Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) today.

“In a year where close to half of the world’s population will go to polls, it is essential not to lose focus on medium-term investment,” said Mukeshimana. “We must not let increased humanitarian demands and short-term election goals derail efforts to build resilient, sustainable, and equitable food systems. These systems are essential in helping to adapt to global crises due to the scale of synergies that can take effect.”

In a communiqué issued earlier today, the CFFA emphasized that “multiple and compounding crises require our agriculture and food systems to be fit for the future in order to realise the human right to adequate food.” The text also recognizes “the pressing need” for “transforming agriculture and food systems to ensure food and nutrition security, alleviate poverty, promote stability and stimulate economic growth.”


Food systems, which cover all aspects of food production, from growing to eating food, and their interconnectedness with the environment and human well-being, have not managed to make nutritious diets accessible or affordable for all. In 2021, over 3 billion people in the world couldn’t afford a healthy diet. Food systems are currently responsible for one-third of greenhouse gas emissions, 80% of biodiversity loss and 70% of freshwater consumption.

“To seize the huge opportunity that food systems transformation presents, we need to invest in the hundreds of millions of small-scale farmers, who produce one third of the world’s food and up to 70% of the food in low and middle-income countries. This is the only path to a food-secure and stable future, as well as the most cost-effective by far,” said Mukeshimana, a former Rwandan Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources.

The cost of inaction for the people and the planet is estimated at US$12 trillion a year in environmental, social, and economic damage to communities, families, livelihoods and lives. This is significantly higher than the cost of action, calculated to be between US$300 and US$400 billion per year of additional investment, representing less than 0.5% of the global GDP. Additionally, transforming food systems can help the world unlock US$4.5 trillion in new business opportunities every year.

Mukeshimana also highlighted that investing in medium to long-term rural development has proved to be a more efficient and empowering way to support poor rural populations. For every dollar invested in developing the resilience of rural people so that they can endure and cope with crises and extreme weather events, up to US$10 can be saved in relief assistance in the future.

“Investing in resilience is as urgent as addressing humanitarian needs. In the long run building resilience will save more lives and improve more livelihoods, and it is a sustainable solution. We count on Germany’s support to continue showing their leadership and commitment to reducing hunger and poverty and increase resilience in rural areas,” said Mukeshimana.

IFAD, the only UN body that invests in rural areas exclusively, is currently in the final stages of its 13th Replenishment of core resources, which was launched last February. The UN Fund wants to mobilize US$2 billion in new funding to support a US$10 billion three-year programme of work (2025-2027) and impact over 100 million rural people over the three years. Though last year’s round of consultations culminated in a pledging session in Paris in December where a total of 48 countries committed a record-breaking US$1.076 billion, IFAD is expecting a number of Member States to pledge in the coming months. IFAD’s resources are replenished every three years by Member States.

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