A major spending boost is needed to bolster agriculture in the fight against hunger, poverty, and other consequences of climate change, the head of the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development told AFP.
“We are seeking a 1.7 billion dollar contribution,” from member states to cover 2022 to 2024, IFAD President Gilbert Houngbo told AFP on Monday.
“The needs have considerably increased,” with the rise in hunger around the world, he added, explaining what would amount to a 54 percent jump in the budget for the UN agency tackling poverty and hunger in rural areas of developing countries.
“This leads us to launch an appeal which is all the more exceptional because of the growing challenges linked to the climate,” the former Togolese prime minister said in a telephone interview.
The appeal would be made at the fund’s board meeting in Rome this week.
The fund solicited $1.2 billion in voluntary contributions from member states in 2017 and received $1.1 billion.
G7 and Nordic countries have been the main donors, stumping up three-quarters of the budget, followed by China, the Netherlands, India, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Ireland, and Austria.
IFAD hopes to double its impact by 2030 and help more than 250 million people living in rural areas to increase their income by at least 20 percent.
The number of people suffering from malnutrition has been on the increase since 2015 and reached 820 million in 2018.
Hunger and small-scale agriculture are intricately linked as 80 percent of the poor live in rural areas and small farmers account for half of the food by calories produced in the world. With climate change making it more difficult to farm in some areas, there is added pressure for migration.
“Our objective is to show that all these subjects are linked, that we shouldn’t treat them in silos,” said Gilbert Houngbo.
“It is impossible to eradicate poverty,” one of the UN’s goals, “if we don’t start with small producers,” he added.
The World Bank estimates that climate change could push more than 100 million people into poverty, with half of that due to its impact on agriculture such as inadequate rain and lower yields.
Gilbert Houngbo called for shifting some of the climate change funding which overwhelmingly goes towards helping reduce pollution to ameliorating its impact.
In particular, he advocated investing in equipment and stockage infrastructure in Africa where as much as 40 percent of production is lost due to a lack of machinery and adequate storage. This would, in turn, reduce pressure on land and water resources and the need for fertiliser.
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