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IFAD Governing Council Meeting Forges Alliances for Smallholder Agriculture

14 February 2013: The 36th Session of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Governing Council convened from 13-14 February 2013, in Rome, Italy, and focused on building partnerships to reduce poverty and ensure food security in rural communities worldwide.

During official business, the Governing Council approved the membership applications from Nauru, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, countries that each experience a range of common development challenges, particularly related to land and food security. As part of the order of business, IFAD President Kanayo Nwanze was appointed to a second four-year term. During his address, he described how focusing work related to rural youth, resilience to climate change and fragile States will advance rural economic development. Nwanze underscored the importance of domestic contributions to IFAD projects, which demonstrate the commitment of developing countries to rural development. He described IFAD's work on climate change through the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme, emphasizing that action is needed now to secure long-term food security in the face of climate change.

One session addressed the challenges of measuring impacts, which described the approaches that IFAD uses in impact evaluation, tools available for evaluation, and an assessment of whether rigorous impacts are worth the effort. Another session on secrets of mutually beneficial and successful partnerships focused on the catalytic role of farmer cooperatives, and public-private partnerships. A subsequent high-level panel considered opportunities for smallholder farmers to develop partnership with the private sector without compromising the interests of local communities. Panelists described the cocoa sector and role of smallholders as the backbone of production, but noted that the development of successful partnerships requires significant time and financial resources. Panelists recognized that sometimes partnerships are not possible due to a lack of common objectives or power asymmetries.

The Governors' Round Table provided a high-level event for exchanging experiences and insights on strategic issues that impact smallholder farmers related to building coalitions to support smallholder farmers. Participants reflected on IFAD's role as a broker of sustainable profitable partnerships that empower smallholders.

During the meeting, staff of IFAD, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) were recognized for their collaborative work on addressing food security in Mozambique. The staff were given the first Award of Excellence: Working Together in the Field. FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva praised their ability to leverage each organization's comparative advantage to promote synergies, particularly on the Building Commodity Value Chain and Market Linkages for Farmers' Associations project. In this example, WFP's local procurement models were advanced by IFAD's technical capacities on improving storage and business management skills. The award aims to encourage further collaboration among agencies.

The meeting was preceded by the First Global Meeting of the Indigenous Peoples' Forum, which took place from 11-12 February. The results of this meeting were described during the Governing Council, with the Forum calling on governments to recognize indigenous peoples' rights to lands, territories and resources, as well as the contribution of traditional knowledge and livelihoods to ecosystem resilience and sustainable development.

Also on the agenda for the Governing Council was a report on the hosting arrangement for the Global Mechanism of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). [Report on IFAD's hosting of the Global Mechanism of the UNCCD] [36th Session of IFAD's Governing Council Website[IFAD Press Release on IFAD President's Appointment] [IFAD Press Release on Opening of the Governing Council] [IFAD Press Release on Partnerships] [IFAD Video on Quinoa Dynamics in Bolivia] [IFAD Blog on Partnership Panel] [FAO Press Release on Award of Excellence: Working Together in the Field] [FAO Video of WFP, FAO and IFAD Working Together in Mozambique][Land Policy & Practice post: Indigenous Peoples' Forum Develops Declaration for IFAD Governing Council]