23 August 2017

Africa: Ifad President and the Finnish Foreign Affairs and Finance Ministries to Discuss Long-Term Investments in Agriculture As Key to Ending Severe Hunger

press release

Rome — The President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Gilbert F. Houngbo, will travel to Finland this week to meet with officials at the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Finance to discuss their shared commitment to support the poorest and most marginalized people in the world

On his first official visit to the country since taking office earlier this year, Houngbo will meet with Kai Mykkänen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, Risto Artjoki, State Secretary, Ministry of Finance, and Under-Secretary of State Elina Kalkku, Governor of Finland to IFAD, among others. In addition, Houngbo will make a special visit to speak with representatives of the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners.

Since it started operations in 1978, IFAD-supported programmes have reached 464 million rural people in over 100 countries, supporting them to grow and sell more food, adapt to climate change, and improve their livelihoods. In addition, IFAD, a specialized agency of the United Nations, works to empower women and create opportunities for rural youth.

Houngbo's visit to Finland comes at a time when more than 30 million children, women and men are at risk of famine in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen - more than the combined population of Finland, Sweden and Denmark. Finland has been a strong advocate for linking immediate humanitarian assistance in times of emergency with that of long-term development.

"Emergency response is essential, but investment in long-term rural development is essential if we are to have any hope of averting future crises," said Houngbo ahead of the visit. "IFAD and Finland share a long-standing commitment to investing in innovative approaches, particularly those that achieve greater gender equality to ensure rural women have the tools and skills they need to increase their incomes and improve their communities."

Fifty per cent of people receiving services from IFAD-supported projects in 2016 were women.

Finnish funds enabled IFAD to work with other UN agencies to implement the Accelerating Progress towards the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women (RWEE) programme in seven countries across Asia and Africa. The programme aims to improve food and nutrition security, increase incomes and to enhance participation in decision-making at community level.

Finland has been a major partner of IFAD since 1978 and has to date pledged more than US$94.5 million to IFAD's regular resources and US$7.1 million to the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP). Finland has also contributed $12.2 million to the Special Programme for sub-Saharan African countries affected by drought and desertification in1985. In addition, Finland has provided IFAD with an additional $6.6 million in supplementary funds to enhance gender equality, technical innovation and environment sustainability in the most remote areas of the globe and in fragile contexts.

MA No.: IFAD/14/2017

IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided US$18.5 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached about 464 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome - the UN's food and agriculture hub. For more about IFAD, visit www.ifad.org.

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