UN agency head highlights Brazil’s role in promoting family farming and transforming rural communities

Rome, 18 July 2016 – Brazil has a lot to teach the world about the importance of family farmers, said the President of the United Nation’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Kanayo F. Nwanze, on route to Brasil where he begins an official visit tomorrow.

“The role of family farmers in feeding the world is undeniable,” said Nwanze. “In Brazil, they produce up to 70 per cent of the country’s staple food. The world has a lot to learn from how Brazil has supported family farmers, giving them the tools they need to succeed.”

While in Brazil, Nwanze will visit two IFAD-funded cooperatives in the State of Bahia (COOPERCUC in Uauá and COOPROAF in Manoel Vitorino) and meet with the Governor of Bahia, Rui Costa.

"For more than 30 years, IFAD has partnered with Brazil to reduce poverty, transform rural areas and sustainably increase the productivity of poor rural people, whilst still protecting the environment. We have worked together to ensure that the technological innovations developed in the country are shared across the continent and beyond. It's an exemplary partnership because we share common goals," said Nwanze.

With a total investment of over US$450 million, IFAD-supported operations in Brazil are the agency’s largest in Latin America and the Caribbean. Two thirds of this amount, approximately $300 million, is made up of contributions from Brazilian authorities and beneficiaries. Six on-going IFAD-funded projects currently being implemented in Brazil are directly benefiting more than 250,000 families in the north-eastern semiarid region of the country.

One of the main features of IFAD-supported projects in Brazil has been their quest for technical innovations and agriculture practices that allow family farmers to face challenges posed by north-eastern Brazil’s harsh environment. Examples include: organic and agro-ecologic production methods; water collection and conservation technologies; and methodologies of participatory planning to take advantage of innovations and traditional knowledge.

Two new projects under design are to expand IFAD-funded operations from the semi-arid sertão where IFAD has operated for the last 35 years to Maranhão’s Amazonian transition area and Pernambuco’s coastal rainforest known as mata atlantica and pre-sertão area known as agreste.

Both projects should be operational by the end of 2018, bringing the total amount of IFAD-supported investment in the country to over $550 million, with more than 300,000 families (around 1 million people) benefitting.

Beyond this, IFAD is supporting a number of programmes to promote innovative agriculture technologies, practices and policies in favour of family farming in Brazil and throughout Latin America.

For example, FIDA-MERCOSUR, an IFAD-sponsored programme, encourages policymakers to share successful policies and practices in favour of family farming across the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR) which includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Similarly, between 2011 and 2015, the Agricultural Innovation Market Place invited scientists from Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa to work together with EMBRAPA’s staff to adapt agricultural technological innovations developed in Brazil to their own countries and regions.

Over the next three years, a new IFAD-funded programme - Adapting Knowledge for Sustainable Agriculture and Access to Markets - will allow the extension and adaptation of EMBRAPA-developed innovations to IFAD-funded projects across Latin America.

Last April, IFAD approved a new country strategy for Brazil. According to it, all IFAD-funded operations in Brazil will focus on supporting family farmers by increasing their productive capacities, facilitating their access to essential services (capacity building, investment planning, rural finance and technical support, with special attention to climate-smart technologies), strengthening their organizations and connecting them to markets.

The SEMEAR knowledge management programme, an IFAD partnership with the Inter-America Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), has worked since 2011 to share innovations beyond IFAD-funded projects, so that they benefit other family farmers and inform public policies.

IFAD-funded operations in Brazil work to ensure that marginalized groups, such as indigenous and quilombola (Afro-descendant) communities, agrarian reform settlers, women and youth benefit from project activities.

“Our new country strategy reaffirms our commitment to collaborate with Brazilian authorities in fighting poverty where it is most needed – the poor rural areas of north-eastern Brazil,” said Nwanze.

Press release No.: IFAD/45/2016

IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided US$17.7 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached about 459 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome – the UN’s food and agriculture hub.

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