Multi-Lateral Summaries > International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

A specialized agency of the United Nations and an international financial institution, IFAD was established in 1977 as one of the major outcomes of the 1974 World Food Conference. The conference resolved that “an International Fund for Agricultural Development should be established immediately to finance agricultural development projects primarily for food production in the developing countries”.

IFAD’s mandate – improving rural food security and nutrition, and enabling rural women and men to overcome poverty – has never been more relevant. Nearly a billion rural people are living on less than US$1.25 a day. Across the globe there are about 500 million smallholder farms supporting approximately 2 billion people. In some countries agriculture is the main source of income for 70 per cent of the rural population.

Working with rural poor people, governments, donors, non-governmental organizations and many other partners, IFAD focuses on country-specific solutions, which can involve increasing rural poor peoples’ access to financial services, markets, technology, land and other natural resources.

IFAD’s activities are guided by the Strategic Framework for IFAD 2011-2015. IFAD’s overarching goal is to enable poor rural people to improve their food security and nutrition, raise their incomes and strengthen their resilience. Despite the challenges, new opportunities are emerging both on and off farm, and the organization’s role is to help people prepare themselves to exploit them. Rural areas are becoming more dynamic places. IFAD-supported projects help rural people to:

  • Become more resilient to climate change, environmental degradation and changing markets
  • Access services that will help them improve their nutrition and raise their incomes
  • Take advantage of opportunities for decent work or entrepreneurship both on and off farm
  • Influence the policies and institutions that govern their livelihoods.

All of IFAD’s decisions - on regional, country and thematic strategies, poverty reduction strategies, policy dialogue and development partners - are made with these principles and objectives in mind. IFAD is committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, in particular the target of halving the proportion of hungry and extremely poor people by 2015.

For more information:

TCB-related programme

The IFAD Strategic Framework 2011-2015 includes the integration of poor rural people in value chains as a key focus. IFAD works with poor rural women and men to help them access value chains that offer opportunities for them as producers, non-farm entrepreneurs and wage workers. We support them in capturing a larger share of the value added along the chain. Strong links to markets for poor rural producers are essential to increasing agricultural production, generating economic growth in rural areas and reducing hunger and poverty. Our work in this area builds on IFAD’s Private-Sector Strategy, which was approved by the IFAD Executive Board in December 2011.

For more information:

The opportunity to expand their access to markets – domestic, regional, and international – is of major importance for smallholder farmers and other rural poor people in developing countries. With increasing demand for agricultural products – food, fiber, and fuel – having become a steady feature of markets at all levels in the past few years, this opportunity is all the more important as a pathway for many small agricultural producers and workers to increase their incomes and overcome poverty.

There is a strong link between development of national and regional markets and beneficial integration of small producers into global value chains. Policy measures aiming to facilitate and better regulate trade at the international and regional levels need to be supported by adequate public and private investments in better functioning markets – not just in terms of infrastructure but also of services, institutions, and governance. And small agricultural producers and workers – both women and men on an equal basis -  need improved access to financial capital, technology, land, water, infrastructure, and opportunities for effective organization. They also need access to effective risk management strategies and tools to address challenges related to volatile markets and prices, as well as production shocks.

Without such access, and without progress in the development of well-functioning and inclusive national and regional markets, an improved international trade environment would be unlikely to automatically generate benefits for smallholder farmers and other poor rural people.

For more information:

As an institution dedicated to combating poverty and hunger in the rural areas of developing countries, all IFAD-funded programmes address food security in some way. IFAD has supported around 400 million poor rural people since it started work.

For more information:

Successful projects

IFAD has more than 30 years of experience in meeting the challenges of rural poverty reduction. Over this time IFAD has provided over US$14 billion in loans and grants to developing countries for agriculture and rural development programmes and projects, and to support agricultural research. With co-financing from partners and domestic contributions, the total investment is about US$34 billion. These initiatives have reached about 400 million poor rural people in 120 countries and territories.

For more information:


Partnerships have been essential to IFAD’s business model since the organization’s founding as a three-way partnership amongthe Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other developing countries. In 2011, the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness held in Busan, Republic of Korea, highlighted the growing significance of partnership for effective international development, and its outcome document, the Busan partnership for effective development co-operation, provides today’s context for IFAD’s partnership efforts.

IFAD’s partners include a wide range of actors, agencies and associations, starting with its Member States. IFAD also cooperates with and supports producers’ and community groups, farmers’ organizations and NGOs. It works closely with other United Nations agencies, international financial institutions, bilateral donors and foundations.

IFAD has developed a partnership strategy, to be presented to the organization’s Executive Board in September 2012. The new approach outlined in the strategy will enable IFAD to be more selective and give focus and direction to the development and management of partnerships, as they contribute to the achievement of its strategic objectives.

TCB activities in this guide


  • Rural poverty advocacy


  • Results-based Country Strategic Opportunities Programme (COSOP)


  • South-South cooperation country programmes