5 May 2014

Africa: Small Farmers As the Key to Africa's Agricultural Future

press release

Rome — Workshop in Zambia to examine lessons from IFAD supported projects in East and Southern Africa

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Government of Zambia are holding a regional workshop for East and Southern Africa from 6 to 9 May in Livingstone, Zambia, to review lessons learned from IFAD-funded projects and identify strategies to address challenges faced during their implementation.

Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda and Agriculture and Livestock Minister Wilbur Simuusa of Zambia will join Périn Saint Ange, Director of IFAD at the opening session of the workshop Tuesday.

The workshop is attracting more than 200 participants, including government officials, representatives of other United Nations agencies, and bilateral development institutions, members of the private sector and civil society groups, and partners from IFAD-funded projects in the region.

In keeping with the United Nations' designation of 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming, and the African Union declaring 2014 as the Year of Agriculture and Food Security, family farming and agricultural investment will be a central focus of this week's workshop.

"Africa's leaders are placing a greater priority on agriculture today, because they recognize that the sector has not met the continent's needs and expectations," said Périn Saint Ange.

"Small farmers are central to this process, because they produce most of Africa's food, " Saint Ange added. "Yet they face daunting challenges of low productivity, poor access to markets, insufficient capital, and the disruptive impact of climate change.

We need to seize on this moment of high economic growth in the region to provide small farmers with the support they need to provide food and decent incomes for themselves and for the region as a whole."

Since its founding in 1977, IFAD has supported national efforts to improve the lives of family farmers in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world.

As of December 2013, IFAD has 44 ongoing programmes and projects in 18 countries in East and Southern Africa, representing US$1,184 million of IFAD financing.

Another five projects were approved last year for Ethiopia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Uganda, and Zambia, for a total IFAD investment of US$159 million.

In Zambia alone, IFAD has financed 13 programmes and projects since 1981 for a total US$315 million, including US$188 million of IFAD's own resource, for the direct benefit of more than 7000,000 Zambian households. Notes to Editors:

Périn Saint Ange, Regional Director, East and Southern Africa Division of IFAD and Abla Benhammouche, IFAD Representative and Country Director for Zambia will be available for interview during the workshop, even by phone.

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