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IFAD to increase investment and presence in transforming food systems in East and Southern Africa

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) regional team held its annual East and Southern Africa Business Planning meeting to outline a vision for the next three years, under the IFAD 12 replenishment cycle. With less than 10 years to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the region’s small-scale farmers and rural people suffering the effects of the pandemic, climate change impacts, locust infestation and other crises, it is essential to plan bold actions to preserve and advance development gains.

The meeting brought together IFAD staff from the East and Southern Africa region and corporate divisions to discuss and prioritize future actions for the next replenishment cycle and to map out interventions, financing instruments and partnerships needed.

According to a statement from the IFAD Communications Division, “the meeting came as the region is recovering and rebuilding from a number of shocks, namely drought, famine, floods, cyclones, locust infestation, exacerbated by the climate change crisis.

“The COVID-19 pandemic also worsened the situation, as measures put to contain the pandemic resulted in disruption of supply and distribution chains, loss of jobs and closure of markets. This greatly impacts the food systems and the people who work in them and, together with arising conflicts, also increases food insecurity across the region.”

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“Millions of people are facing hunger around the world, with the majority of them living in sub-Saharan Africa. Our work in East and Southern Africa is therefore cut out for us in our next replenishment cycle –we need to tap into technology and innovation to help the region rebuild and recover,” said Sara Mbago-Bhunu, Regional Director of IFAD’s East and Southern Africa Division.

For the current three-year replenishment cycle (IFAD11), the institution has invested US$708 million in the region as at 31st October 2021, targeting to reach 18.4 million households in 12 countries.  Across the region, 48 per cent of IFAD-supported projects focus on value chain and food system development targeting small-scale farmers, rural women and youth.

With the bulk of food produced by small-scale farmers, who often remain poor and even hungry, IFAD puts small-scale producers and other rural people at the heart of food systems transformation and efforts to achieve the SDGs. The current pandemic has shown the fragility of food systems and the need to transform them.

Speaking during the opening ceremony, Prof Hamadi Boga, Principal Secretary, State Department for Crop Development and Agricultural Research, Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives in Kenya, said, “to successfully transform our food systems, we need to understand the diversity of the community we are working with. The IFAD-supported project KCEP-CRAL in Kenya demonstrates this through its graduation model, which allows farmers to grow from subsistence to commercial over a period of time.”

Over the years IFAD has invested a total of US$455 million in 20 programmes and projects with a total cost of US$980 million, benefiting about 4.6 million poor rural households in Kenya. These programmes and projects have increased access to financial services, knowledge, markets, technology, land and other natural resources for small-scale farmers, pastoralists, fishers and small-scale entrepreneurs.

Speaking during the closing ceremony, Hon. Tendai Mtana, County Executive Committee (CEC) member for Agriculture, Mombasa County said, “we are happy that you choose to have your meeting in Mombasa County. The county is located at the centre of rural communities that make up the Coastal region and the Arid and Semi-Arid region (ASAL) and our deliberations with your team has provoked our thinking on natural resource management and the role the county can play.”

IFAD is getting closer to its Member States and beneficiaries in the field to better deliver on its mandate. The Regional Office, which will coordinate the delivery of all interventions in East and Southern Africa is therefore being relocated from Rome to Nairobi from January 2022. Presence in the capital will help build stronger partnerships for the sustainable transformation of food systems for the benefit of farmers and other rural people.

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