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There are three UN food agencies all based in Rome. What separates them and justifies ongoing international support? On this week’s podcast, the head of one those agencies makes his pitch for more resources.
“Between 2010 and 2015, independent assessment [found] that IFAD has helped 24 million out of poverty,” former Prime Minister of Togo Gilbert Houngbo tells me in the podcast. “So I’m saying that the results speak for the need to keep us in business.”
IFAD—the International Fund for Agricultural Development—is part implementing agency, part development bank, and works on the idea that food security can drive a nation’s development, peace, and prosperity.
Houngbo joined me on the podcast just after the UN warned that 20 million people are facing famine in four countries—Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and north-eastern Nigeria. How can IFAD help?
“Beyond the moral side of it … investing in long-term development turns out to be cheaper than jumping from one crisis to another,” Houngbo says, clarifying that IFAD is not a humanitarian agency. “When you start talking about the transition economics, that’s where we start working with the government … or at the local level to start building new programs for long-term development.”
Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) and Representative Ed Royce (R-CA) have teamed up with Democratic colleagues Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) to introduce new legislation that would reform US international food aid to deliver more help to more people in crisis, faster.
As donors gather next week in Rome to pledge funds to the International Fund for Agriculture Development , they may be wondering where the United States is. Given the generally high marks this independent fund earns for development effectiveness, the uncertainty around a US pledge is troubling. In this “America First” moment, it’s worth asking when it comes to IFAD, what’s in it for the United States and what will be lost if the United States drops out?
One of the mysteries of development economics is why more people in subsistence agriculture don't migrate to cities where incomes are much, much higher. New data suggests one answer: when they move, their incomes may not go up as much as we thought.
Members of the World Trade Organization will be meeting next week in Buenos Aires to discuss the future of agricultural and other trade policies that could have important implications for food security and jobs in developing countries (eventually). And members of the US House and Senate agricultural committees will be meeting through next year to craft a new five-year farm bill that will help shape global markets and determine how much and how quickly US food aid can be delivered to people in desperate need around the world.