The International Fund for Agricultural Development has set itself an ambitious goal by 2015: to reach 90 million rural poor and lift 80 million of them out of poverty — permanently. To meet this target, it needs $7.9 billion, though based on its projections, it will only have available resources of $6.21 billion over the next three years.
In mid-June, the Rome-based U.N. agency hosted a round-table discussion exploring ways to fill that funding gap. And just like other international aid organizations, IFAD is looking at opportunities to work with the private sector.
“What everybody is kind of saying now,” said Mohamed Beavogui, director of partnership and resource mobilization at IFAD, “is that we have to look at the private sector. And the private sector itself is really [embracing] the opportunity because food prices are high, [the] need is there, so it is a market opportunity. Therefore, it’s an investment opportunity which the private sector also is considering in addition to governments themselves.”
Devex spoke with Beavogui on the sidelines of the gathering. While he avoided talking in detail about IFAD’s fundraising drive, Beavogui did discuss the agency’s efforts to strengthen farmers’ resilience, and the most important factor it considers when funding a project.
How much of IFAD funding will be through public-private partnerships?
This institution has been established as a partnership between three groups: OECD countries, OPEC countries and developing countries. It was established with a solidarity spirit, and that solidarity means every three years [they say], “Come and let’s see what we can do for the rural poor around the world. Present your program.” We discuss, we put together some money and that money will be used. That’s what we used to call “replenishment.”
That form of financing will always be the main way of financing IFAD. When we organized this meeting [on mobilizing resources for IFAD programs], it’s to look [at] how we can expand first that form of financing, and then what else we can do to improve at the margin of that one.
Resilience is a buzzword in development cooperation right now. What does it mean for you and for IFAD?
Resilience is a critical aspect of our work. What we do is to create the best conditions to help the rural poor to overcome poverty, but one of the most important aspects for him to overcome poverty is to be adaptive, resilient.
He [himself] builds his farm on the basis of an approach that allows him resilience. For example, the farmer will never plant one crop — he will plant two crops. One is very strong, has a very strong resistance to drought; the other one has a very strong resistance to flood. So that is risk management. If the flood comes, one has difficulties, the other one responds.
We learned that from them, so therefore we help them to build and to increase and to improve that resilience. And that resilience can be improved through what? Through the right seeds, the right techniques of farming that we can … share [based on] what we do somewhere else or we have experimented in farmer field schools…
[Resilience] can be brought through, for example, … through managing what is available. That can be done through several ways of approaching things or building systems that allow [farmers] to save when they have a lot and to spend when they don’t have enough, or help them re-green their areas. We have noticed, for example, that in areas where there was re-greening, the trees were re-grown … [that] when the famine came, these people at least could cut some of the trees, sell them and buy food; they could cut the fodders and give to the animals to eat.
So resilience can be tackled from different points of view, but I can tell you [that] for us it’s a keyword, it’s a key aspect in any project we design. We always look at the resilience element as a very, very important element.
What determines IFAD’s work in different regions?
IFAD’s [focus is on] targeting. Targeting means that the first question when you present your project is, what is your target group and what is your target area? [That’s] because we look for those who are in need. We go where nobody goes, we go where it is difficult to go because that’s what we were created for.
We are working in the most deprived areas of the world: Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America. It can be even in countries that have means [such as] China or India, but in an area where that need [for us to be engaged] is called for.
Read our previous 3 Questions for David Hall-Matthews.