The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is an international financial institution and UN specialised agency dedicated to eradicating poverty in rural areas of developing countries. The Fund was established in 1977 as one of the major outcomes of the 1974 World Food Conference.
IFAD provides low-interest loans and grants to developing countries to finance innovative agricultural and rural development programmes and projects. The Fund is among the top three multilateral institutions working in agriculture in Africa, and is the only institution that has focused exclusively on smallholder development.
IFAD-supported programmes and projects ensure that poor rural people have better access, and the skills and organisation needed, to take advantage of:
Natural resources, especially secure access to land and water, and improved natural resource management and conservation practices
Improved agricultural technologies and effective production services
A broad range of financial services
Transparent and competitive markets for agricultural inputs and produce
Opportunities for rural off-farm employment and enterprise development
Local and national policy and programming processes.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have guided IFAD's work since 2000, in particular the first goal to halve the proportion of people suffering from hunger and extreme poverty by 2015.
The great majority of IFAD's resources are provided to low-income countries on highly concessional terms, under which the loans are repayable over 40 years, with a 10-year grace period, at zero percent interest and a 0.75 percent service charge. In 2007, IFAD's Executive Board approved the Fund's debt sustainability framework (DSF), replacing loans with grants for poor countries unable to sustain debt. The framework is part of a unified effort by multilateral financial institutions to ensure that essential economic assistance does not cause undue financial hardship for countries most in need.
Since starting operations, IFAD has invested more than $12.5 billion in grants and low-interest loans, supporting about 860 programmes and projects that have helped about 370 million people achieve better lives for themselves and their families. Co-financing has been provided by governments, project participants, multilateral and bilateral donors, and other partners.
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