As more people spiral into hunger and poverty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Netherlands has stepped up it’s funding to the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to help avert a rural food crisis.
Their €6 million contributions to IFAD’s Rural Poor Stimulus Facility will help small-scale farmers continue to grow and sell food amidst COVID-19 restrictions in movement and trade. The Facility was launched in April by IFAD’s Goodwill Ambassadors, Idris and Sabrina Elba, and it provides rural producers with timely access to inputs, markets, liquidity and information to ensure an uninterrupted food supply.
“Rural small-scale producers grow much of the world’s food. Investments in them are investments in global stability, sustainability and resilience,” said Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD. “This financial commitment from the Netherlands takes us one bold step closer to building a world free from hunger and poverty.”
“The accelerated rise of global hunger reconfirms the urgent need to enhance the income and productivity of smallholder farmers and to strengthen their resilience,” said Kitty van der Heijden, Director-General for International Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. “IFAD is a front runner in this respect – it makes a real difference to rural people’s lives and brings positive changes to scale. The Netherlands supports IFAD in its mission.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a particularly heavy toll on people living in rural areas of developing countries, where the majority of the world’s poorest and hungriest live.
Border closures and restrictions in trade and movement have prevented farmers from planting and harvesting crops, and from accessing markets to buy inputs and sell their produce. They have also disrupted domestic and international food supply chains, putting millions of rural livelihoods at risk.
It is estimated that there could be up to 132 million more people going hungry by the end of the year due to the pandemic. Extreme poverty is expected to rise in 2020 for the first time in over 20 years.
A recent joint statement by IFAD and other UN agencies stressed that the pandemic has laid bare the fragility of global food systems, but it is also an opportunity to build them back better. IFAD is advocating for an increase in long-term investments in agriculture and rural development to ensure recovery from COVID-19, and transform food systems to make them more inclusive, productive, resilient, and sustainable.
The Netherlands is a founding member of IFAD and has contributed US$543 million in core contributions and $118 million in supplementary funds since the Fund’s establishment in 1978. It has worked closely with IFAD to help address the impact of climate change on small-scale farmers and increase youth employment and women empowerment in rural areas.