Agriculture has always been at the centre of Kanayo Nwanze’s work. Having graduated in Agricultural Science from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, he obtained his PhD in Agricultural Entomology at Kansas State University. He spent ten years as the Director of the African Rice Centre before becoming the President of IFAD – the International Fund for Agricultural Development. The ideas and convictions which guide Nwanze are perfectly aligned with those which drive the Forum organised by the BCFN in Milan on 1 December, which the expert will attend as a speaker to share his experience and opinions on how to achieve a common objective: sustainable development.
Change ourselves to change the world
“The climate is changing and agriculture must change to suit this new scenario. But if we really want to free the world from the scourge of hunger, we also need to change ourselves”. This was the view set out by Kanayo Nwanze during World Food Day, celebrated in Rome on 16 October. His speech highlighted the importance of small farmers in the context of global agriculture which needs to undergo a transformation if it wants to guarantee sustainable development and a world which is no longer ravaged by hunger. “There is something deeply wrong with our world”, said the President of IFAD, explaining that “today, almost 800 million people are seriously malnourished, 160 million children do not get enough nutrients, and despite this, a third of the food we produce is thrown away”. As someone who is accustomed to tackling these problems on a daily basis, Nwanze does not simply point out the problems, but is also launching a direct appeal to the world: “It is time to do more than just talking, and holding conferences and commemorations, it is time to put our words into action!” The eradication of hunger and sustainable development are long-term projects into which every country must invest time and money, as well as good governance and laws to protect the most disadvantaged. Only in this way can we hope to achieve the sustainable development goals set out by the United Nations for 2030.
A financial institution for the most disadvantaged
For several years, Kanayo Nwanze has held the position of President of IFAD - the International Fund for Agricultural Development – an organisation based in Rome founded in 1977 with a view to ensuring better food security and higher incomes to those living in poverty in rural areas. The objective is to find effective ways of tackling the inevitable climatic, economic and environmental changes which the world is already starting to experience. The organisation - which currently has 176 member countries from around the world – was created as an international financial institution and UN agency with the specific goal of eliminating poverty and hunger in rural areas in developing countries. This fits seamlessly with the sustainable development goals for 2030 and the approach taken by the BCFN.
To succeed in this ambitious project, IFAD is working above all with small farmers and entrepreneurs in rural areas to ensure that they have a say in international political decisions. However, the support given to these “weak” groups is also practical: small-scale funding, targeted financial services, projects specially designed for families, women and other vulnerable groups such as young people (85% of young people in the world live in developing countries) and indigenous populations (5% of the global population and around 15% of those living in poverty).