Tudun Wada South Rice Processors women’s cooperative (Nigeria): Polishing and packaging rice while strictly adhering to the guiding principles to curtail the spread of Covid-19.
Photo: ©IFAD/ Thomas Yisa

New IFAD fund to help prevent rural food crisis

“The fallout from COVID-19 may push rural families even deeper into poverty, hunger and desperation”, said Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD. A new fund by IFAD aims to provide rural people with the tools to adapt to the current crisis and ensure a quicker recovery.

A new fund to help prevent a rural food crisis in wake of COVID-19 was launched by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in April 2020. The organisation committed USD 40 million, and launched an urgent appeal for additional funds, to support farmers and rural communities to continue growing and selling food.

IFAD’s new multi-donor fund, the COVID-19 Rural Poor Stimulus Facility, aims to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on food production, market access and rural employment. As part of the broader UN socio-economic response framework, the Facility will ensure that farmers in the most vulnerable countries have timely access to inputs, information, markets and liquidity. On top of its own contribution, IFAD aims to raise at least USD 200 million more from Member States, foundations and the private sector.

The Rural Poor Stimulus Facility will focus on the following activities:

  • Provide inputs for production of crops, livestock and fisheries to small-scale producers so that they can weather the immediate effects of the economic crisis.
  • Facilitate access to markets to support small-scale farmers to sell their products in conditions where restricted movement is interrupting the functioning of markets, including providing logistics and storage support.
  • Provide targeted funds for rural financial services to ensure sufficient liquidity is available and to ease immediate loan repayment requirements to maintain services, markets and jobs for poor rural people.
  • Use digital services to share key information on production, weather, finance and markets.

Movement restrictions hinder access to markets
 

With their movements restricted in order to contain further spread of the virus, many small-scale farmers are unable to access markets to sell produce or buy inputs, such as seeds or fertilizer. Closures of major transport routes and export bans are also likely to affect food systems adversely. 

As entire production chains are disrupted and unemployment rises, the most vulnerable include daily labourers, small businesses and informal workers, who are very often women and young people. The return of workers from cities affected by lockdowns will put further strain on rural households, which will also stop receiving much needed remittances.

The economic impact of the pandemic could push a further half-billion people into poverty
 

About 80 per cent of the world’s poorest and most food-insecure people live in rural areas. Even before the outbreak, more than 820 million people were going hungry every day. A recent United Nations University study warned that in a worst-case scenario, the economic impact of the pandemic could push a further half-billion people into poverty.

“This pandemic is threatening the gains we have made in reducing poverty over the past years. To avoid serious disruption to rural economies, it is essential to ensure that agriculture, food chains, markets and trade continue to function,” said Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD.

(IFAD/ile)

Read more at IFAD website