Rome, 17 February 2010 - Secretary-General's message to 33rd session of the IFAD Governing CouncilI send warm greetings to the 33rd meeting of the IFAD Governing Council and to all those who are so integrally involved in putting smallholders and rural producers at the centre of efforts to overcome global hunger and poverty.
Despite the hardships of the global recession, last year saw an upturn in investment in agriculture, along with promises from world leaders of large additional increases over the next three years. Eight African countries have reached or exceeded the Maputo Declaration target by allocating 10 per cent or more of their national budgets for agriculture. The growing international recognition of the role of agriculture and rural development in poverty reduction is helping to build the Global Partnership for Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition. I was pleased to join delegates at last year's summit on World Food Security in Rome, where the five principles of this evolving partnership, as well as a revitalized Committee on Food Security, were established. It is no coincidence that the first of the Rome principles – emphasizing the centrality of country-led approaches – is also how IFAD seeks to work.
With more than 1 billion people now suffering from hunger – the highest number in human history – there is simply no time to lose. The food emergency in the Horn of Africa, the plight of the population of Haiti and the early warnings coming from other parts of the world remind us that our actions for food security must be both comprehensive and sustained. We must also better address the interconnections between climate change and agriculture. And we need to continue creating diverse and innovative partnerships that can help people and communities achieve greater productivity, nutritional health and self-reliance. In this respect we must give pre-eminence to the interests of women, who juggle their time between food production, processing, marketing, child care and balancing the household budget.
When world leaders gather in New York in September for the MDG Summit, I will urge them to focus on strategic actions that promise the most impact. I will count on IFAD and its partners to shine a global spotlight on the strategic potential of investing in smallholder farming systems as a contribution to sustainable development. Please accept my best wishes for a productive session.
Statements on 17 February 2010