Established at the 1974 World Food Conference, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) was founded on the principle that food scarcity is not always the driver of famines, but rather poverty and a lack of resilient agricultural infrastructure create the conditions necessary for a famine to break out. Therefore, world leaders developed a specialized financial institution that would be focused on investing in projects to strengthen agricultural infrastructure. Today, the IFAD has three strategic objectives: increasing the productive capacity of poor rural people, increasing their benefits from market participation, and strengthening the environmental sustainability and climate resilience of their economic activities. IFAD projects also seek to support countries that are working to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Topic A: Combating Infectious Disease in the Agricultural Sector
Infectious diseases remain one of the world’s leading public health concerns. The human cost of diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and other illnesses is already steep. But when these diseases go unobstructed, the resulting damages can devastate communities across the globe. This is as true in agricultural communities as it is in urban communities. Individuals living in rural areas already face significant barriers to accessing good health. The barriers to good health also act as barriers to agricultural development, as these diseases reduce the productive population. Livestock also face their own health concerns, and if these animal diseases also affect humans, both the community and its economic livelihood are jeopardized. Given the fundamental role that food and agriculture play in modern society, addressing the complex and interconnected challenges of ensuring good health in agricultural communities is of the highest importance to the IFAD.
Topic B: Recovery of Agricultural Zones Affected by Armed Conflict
One of the many consequences of armed conflict is the forced displacement of millions of people. In rural areas, the main damages include damage to the soil and land as crops are burned, the uncontrolled killing of livestock, forced conscription, and displacement of people from their land. In fact, rural communities are among the most exposed to the negative effects of conflict. Even after the cessation of conflict, it is often extremely challenging for people to return home and rehabilitate their lands. Many do not return, and they often lose their lands, turning instead to informal jobs or begging. Investment is needed for agriculture to recover. When rural people safely regain control of their land, they will be able to participate in the market, enjoy economic growth, and recover their stability.