The COVID-19 Rural Poor Stimulus Facility targeting to raise at least $200m is aimed at supporting farmers and rural communities to continue growing and selling food.
HEALTH FOOD CRISIS RELIEF
The United Nation's International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has launched a new fund, to help prevent rural food crisis in wake of COVID-19.
The COVID-19 Rural Poor Stimulus Facility targeting to raise at least $200m is aimed at supporting farmers and rural communities to continue growing and selling food amid the COVID-19 pandemic and economic slowdown that is threatening the lives and livelihoods of the world's most vulnerable people
To mitigate the effects of the pandemic on food production, market access and rural employment, IFAD has made a $40 million commitment to the fund and launched an urgent appeal for additional funds from Member States, foundations and the private sector.
"We need to act now to stop this health crisis transforming into a food crisis," said Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD.
"The fallout from COVID-19 may push rural families even deeper into poverty, hunger and desperation, which is a real threat to global prosperity and stability. With immediate action, we can provide rural people with the tools to adapt and ensure a quicker recovery, averting an even bigger humanitarian crisis."
On top of its own contribution, IFAD aims to raise at least $200 million more from Member States, foundations and the private sector.
The fund has already garnered support from British actor, filmmaker and humanitarian Idris Elba and his wife Sabrina Dhowre Elba.
As part of the broader UN socio-economic response framework, the Facility will ensure that farmers in the most vulnerable countries have timely access to inputs, information, markets and liquidity.
According to Sara Mbago-Bhunu, Regional Director, at IFAD's East and Southern Africa, Division member states can access up to a maximum of $5m in grants.
"Member states can apply for this money so that they help the vulnerable smallholder farmers to remain resilient during this hard period," Mbago-Bhunu says.
With their movements restricted to contain further spread of the virus, many small-scale farmers are unable to access markets to sell produce or to buy inputs, such as seeds or fertilizer.
Closures of major transport routes and export bans are also likely to affect food systems adversely.
"We want to work with governments to ensure farmers are able to get inputs and be able to access markets with ease," Mbago-Bhunu says.
About 80 percent of the world's poorest and most food insecure people live in rural areas.
The Rural Poor Stimulus Facility will focus on providing inputs for production of crops, livestock and fisheries to small-scale producers so that they can weather the immediate effects of the economic crisis.
According to Bhunu this will be done through systems like e-voucher in countries where they exist, but also through using agro-dealers and any other possible means.
The fund will also facilitate access to markets to support small-scale farmers to sell their products in conditions where restricted movement is interrupting the functioning of markets, including providing logistics and storage support.
IFAD will offer targeted funds for rural financial services to ensure sufficient liquidity is available and to ease immediate loan repayment requirements to maintain services, markets and jobs for poor rural people.
The facility will use digital services to share key information on production, weather, finance and markets.