Canada announced a CA$6 million commitment to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) on Wednesday.
The funds will help finance IFAD’s new Rural Poor Stimulus Facility that supports farmers and agricultural communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying economic fallout. The $6 million commitment is in addition to a $150 million concessional loan Canada pledged to IFAD earlier this year, focused on climate initiatives.
IFAD has seeded the effort with US$40 million and aims to raise an additional US$200 million for addressing the growing crisis.
Canada’s commitment to the facility will benefit the world’s most vulnerable communities.
"We would like to thank Canada for its commitment to the world’s most vulnerable people and for taking on this leading role to commit to the facility," Gilbert F. Houngbo, president of IFAD, said in a statement. "With this support, more rural farmers, particularly women, can have the timely access to the inputs, information, markets, and liquidity they need to ensure that the COVID-19 pandemic does not escalate into a bigger humanitarian disaster."
As the coronavirus began spreading around the world, infecting millions of people and causing economies to falter amid stay-at-home-orders, IFAD warned that agricultural systems could collapse, jeopardizing the livelihoods of millions of already vulnerable farmers and farmworkers, and causing global hunger to skyrocket.
In fact, the World Food Programme warns that an additional 130 million people could face acute malnutrition by the end of the year unless dramatic interventions are made.
IFAD has responded to the crisis by ensuring COVID-19 resiliency among impacted communities. The organization has worked to bolster supply chains, help harvests reach market, guarantee farmer incomes, provide key agricultural inputs such as seeds and fertilizers, and expand access to technology.
The newly formed facility is part of the United Nations’ broader COVID-19 emergency response plan and aims to formalize many of these resiliency plans.
Canada is a founding member of IFAD and has committed US$463 million to the organization over the years, focusing particularly on programs that advance climate action and women’s rights.
The country’s latest commitment continues this track record.
"We must act quickly to address the impact of COVID-19 on the most vulnerable communities, and Canada is responding to the severe food security needs brought on by the pandemic," Canada’s Minister of International Development Karina Gould said in a statement. "Our investments will be helping to maintain food production and distribution, and protect the world’s poorest from the loss of their livelihoods and the serious health consequences of malnutrition."