The United Nations’ International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has announced the launch of a new fund to help prevent a rural food crisis due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In a press statement, IFAD said the fund is committing $40m to supporting farmers and rural communities, whilst also launching an urgent appeal for additional funds. The financial aid will go towards allowing farmers and rural communities to continue growing and selling food.
IFAD’s new multi-donor fund, the COVID-19 Rural Poor Stimulus Facility, forms part of the broader UN’s socio-economic response framework. It will mitigate the effects of the pandemic on global food production, market access and rural employment.
IFAD aims to raise at least another $200m from its member states, foundations and the private sector to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on food production.
“We need to act now to stop this health crisis transforming into a food crisis,” said IFAD President, Gilbert Houngbo. “The fallout from COVID-19 may push rural families even deeper into poverty, hunger and desperation, which is a real threat to global prosperity and stability. With immediate action, we can provide rural people with the tools to adapt and ensure a quicker recovery, averting an even bigger humanitarian crisis.”
Houngbo declared that the pandemic is threatening the gains IFAD has made in reducing poverty. To avoid serious disruption to rural economies, it is essential to ensure agriculture, food chains, markets and trade continue to function.
He said that a majority of the world’s most impoverished people are already suffering the consequences of climate change and conflict.
“An economic downturn in rural areas could compound these effects, generating more hunger and increasing instability, especially in fragile states,” Houngbo said.
According to the IFAD, the new fund will focus on providing inputs for crop, livestock and fisheries production to small-scale producers. It will also facilitate access to markets to support small-scale farmers to sell their products where restricted movement is interrupting the functioning of markets.
It will also focus on providing targeted funds for rural financial services to ensure sufficient liquidity is available. The fund is also set to ease immediate loan repayment requirements to maintain services, markets and jobs for poor rural people.
IFAD added that the new fund will also focus on using digital services to share key information on production, weather, finance and markets. It has received requests from governments in over 65 countries to help respond to the impact of the pandemic.
“A timely response to the pandemic is an opportunity to rebuild the world’s food systems along more sustainable and inclusive lines and build the resilience of rural populations to crisis, whether related to health, climate or conflict,” said Houngbo.