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The 35th session of the Governing Council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) included keynote speeches and discussions on conservation agriculture and resilience of smallholder farmers, the role of agriculture in climate change adaptation and mitigation, and propsects for Rio+20.

23 February 2012: The 35th session of the Governing Council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) focused on the contribution of sustainable smallholder agriculture to meeting global food needs while protecting the environment.

IFAD’s Governing Council met from 22-23 February 2012, in Rome, Italy. Over the course of the two-day meeting, participants heard presentations by high-level speakers. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, gave a keynote speech on how climate-smart agriculture can feed the growing world population. He urged the international community to learn through trial and error, while adopting successful models to new locations.

Kanayo Nwanze, IFAD President, highlighted the $1.5 billion commitment of Members States to IFAD’s Ninth Replenishment. He called for “perseverance, patience and determination” to reduce rural poverty and create climate-smart ways to build the resilience of smallholders, noting that IFAD has a role to play in adaptation and mitigation.

Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, addressed how improvements in sustainable agriculture can lead to poverty reduction, particularly through investment in information and communication technologies. Gates also announced seven grants for a total value of $200 million, for projects to be carried out mainly in Africa. In addition, IFAD and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced a statement of intent to build a stronger partnership.

On prospects for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20), participants noted frustration that agriculture has remained outside of the climate change discussions, but welcomed the recognition of agriculture in the Rio+20 process. The meeting also included discussions on: how conservation agriculture can improve smallholder livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa; and how improved crop varieties can enhance resilience of smallholder farmers in the context of climate change. [IFAD Press Release, 15 February 2012] [IFAD Press Release, 22 February 2012] [IFAD Press Release, 23 February 2012] [UN Press Release] [IISD RS Story on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grants]

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