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“It’s time for the international community to do more to help large and small farmers manage the many-fold risks they are faced with every day”, writes the CEO of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Jin-Yong Cai in a commentary at the occasion of the African Business Week, from 22 – 26 April, in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

Nearly a billion people in the world go hungry every day, most of them in developing countries. The challenge is immense. Weather, pests and crop disease, land degradation and market failures make farming an inherently risky enterprise. Bountiful harvests are no guarantee for prosperity if a lack of storage forces farmers to sell when prices are lowest, or if inadequate infrastructure limits where they can sell their crops. And too often, farmers do not have access to working capital to enable them purchase seeds and fertilizer and invest in productivity-enhancing equipment. 

It’s time for the international community to do more to help large and small farmers manage these risks and unlock the investment they need to fulfill their productive potential. For International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, agriculture is a top priority, and we are rapidly increasing investments. In 2012, new commitments reached 4.2 billion US-Dollar (USD), more than double the level of 2011.

The Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), a multilateral fund set up to help the G20 deliver on its food-security commitments, supports agriculture development strategies in the poorest countries. The GAFSP private sector window, which IFC manages, blends donor financing with commercial credit to promote investments that create rural employment and bring small farmers into the agribusiness supply chain.

IFC and GAFSP investments demonstrate that it is possible through innovation to overcome the barriers farmers face and support even the smallest farmers in a sustainable way. Working together—with financial institutions, trading firms, processors, seed and agricultural chemical providers, governments, civil society and farmers themselves—we can exponentially multiply the number of farmers who get support and increase the influence and impact of our investments.

Water scarcity is threatening production in many of the world’s traditional breadbaskets.

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