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Investing in farmers

‘Investments in poor small-scale farmers’ generate significant benefits for climate and environment, says new IFAG-GEF report
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Investing in farmers

Main image: © Ubirajara Machado/MDA/IFAD

Joint investments in small-scale farming in developing countries not only increase vulnerable rural people’s capacity to cope with the ever-increasing climatic and economic shocks, but significantly benefit the environment and climate by helping to reduce greenhouse gases emissions, recovering degraded land and curbing biodiversity loss.

This is the headline finding of a new joint report launched by the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

‘IFAD’s partnership with GEF benefits 78 million people across 100 countries, improving their livelihoods and delivering resilience-building solutions across food systems, climate and nature.

‘Together our organisations assemble finance to have a catalytic impact on rural communities across the globe and facilitate a multiplier effect on the systems and institutions they are critical to.’

JYOTSNA PURI
Associate vice-president of the Strategy and Knowledge Department at IFAD

Restoring degraded land

The IFAD is the UN’s only specialised agency and international financial institution that focuses exclusively on reducing poverty and improving food security in rural areas in developing countries.

The partnership with GEF enables IFAD to boost its work to support sustainable land and water management, climate-smart agriculture, agroecology, biodiversity conservation, climate adaptation and resilience building, says the new IFAD-GEF Advantage III Report.

For instance, one project aimed at developing family farming, co-funded by IFAD and GEF, restored 30,000 hectares of degraded land in Niger.

In doing so, this programme prevented the emission of 5.25 million tonnes of CO2, while recovering nearly 190,000 hectares through ‘Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration’ practices, which foster regrowth of trees to increase woody vegetation.

Switching to renewable energy

IFAD-GEF collaboration has also helped unlock innovation at country level, highlights the report.

In Cambodia, ‘testing grants’ de-risked the adoption process of Renewable Energy Technologies (RET) by supporting the proofing and validation by small-scale farmers and small and medium enterprises.

These grants were followed by other ‘roll-out grants’ through a co-financing approach with companies to establish local supply chains, training and after-sales services.

As a result, nearly 18,000 small-scale farmers have adopted different RET, such as solar dryers for food processing, portable solar water pumps to irrigate crops, biochar briquettes to heat newly hatched chicks, solar poultry incubators to heat eggs and solar hydroponics to grow vegetables with less water.

Transforming agrifood systems

IFAD’s ability to bundle different sources of development finance unlocks new possibilities to address pressing global challenges such as transforming the way we produce, transport, store and consume food.

Together with its sister agency, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), IFAD co-leads the new Food Systems Integrated Program of the GEF, whereby an estimated $230 million – to be complemented by additional co-financing – will be directed through grants to support countries working to transform their agrifood systems to be more sustainable and to deliver global environmental benefits.

The currently active portfolio of IFAD-GEF operations represents a total investment of nearly $200 million in 35 global projects on agriculture and rural development across all world regions.

Recent project approvals in 2022 and 2023 alone represent more than $64 million in GEF grants, with significant co-financing of over $347million.

13 projects in 18 countries, totalling almost $100 million, are at the design stage in the IFAD-GEF pipeline and a ‘soft pipeline’ of projects being scoped out comes to almost another $100 million.

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