International Fund for Agricultural Development - IFAD


The International Fund of Agriculture Development (IFAD) is both a specialized agency of the United Nations and an International Financial Institution (IFI).

The organization was founded in 1977 and comprises 177 members. Germany was one of the founding members.

IFAD is the world's second largest multilateral donor in the field of agriculture and nutrition in the context of development cooperation and the only UN organization that can raise funds on the capital market (around USD 1 billion in 2023).

IFAD is currently active in 92 countries with around 194 measures, reaching around 79 million people. The focus is on the African continent (55% of funds are expected to flow to Africa in 2022-24).

IFAD13 (2025-2027) sets priorities in the areas of climate (especially climate adaptation/resilience), biodiversity and the environment, in the promotion of the private sector and in work in fragile contexts.

50% of those involved in projects are women.

Tasks and objectives

IFAD's priority areas are agriculture, climate, nutrition, gender and youth employment in rural areas.

The narrowly focused mandate includes

  • the promotion of smallholder agriculture,
  • support for rural development,
  • food security and
  • combating poverty in rural areas.

IFAD supports the fight against the causes of displacement and is committed to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda, in particular sustainable poverty reduction (SDG 1) and hunger reduction (SDG 2).

IFAD is an international financial institution (IFI) with the business area of financing investments in rural development.

It primarily provides concessionary loans (loans on favorable terms), grants and advice in this sector.

IFAD also promotes South-South and triangular cooperation.

The focus is on

  • Improving the sustainable production capacity of the poor in rural areas;
  • improving the access of the rural poor (with a particular focus on women and youth) to financial services, markets and value chains, technologies and land;
  • strengthening environmental sustainability and climate adaptation as well as combating the causes of climate change in its own projects.

IFAD was the first UN institution to undergo a credit rating process in 2020 and achieved an excellent result of “AA+” (reconfirmed in September 2023).

The credit rating allows IFAD to raise money on the capital market (around USD 1 billion in 2023), which is made available to middle-income countries in particular for programs and projects.

This enables IFAD to focus its particularly favorable (concessional) funds on the poorest countries - low-income countries (LICs) and lower middle-income countries (LMICs).

IFAD is pushing ahead with its institutional reforms, strengthening its cooperation with the other Rome-based agricultural and food organizations (FAO, WFP) and increasing its presence in partner countries (goal of having 45% of staff on the ground by the end of 2024).

Due to the quality of its work and its focus on impact and results measurement, IFAD was rated the best of 49 bilateral and multilateral development organizations in terms of the quality of its support (Quality of ODA) by the Center of Global Development in Washington DC in 2021 (see also https://www.cgdev.org/quoda-2021).

Institutional structure

The fund has two main bodies:

Governing Council (GC)

The Governing Council is the highest and most important decision-making body of the organization, in which each member state is represented by a governor.

It usually meets once a year and is responsible, among other things, for the election of the IFAD President and the IFAD budget.

Germany is currently represented on the GC by State Secretary Jochen Flasbarth (BMZ).

Executive Board (EB)

The Executive Board is responsible for monitoring day-to-day business, the budget and the approval of institutional, thematic and country-specific strategies and projects/programs.

The EB is made up of 18 Executive Directors and their representatives and usually meets three times a year.

Germany is currently represented on the EB by Ronald Meyer.

The most important subsidiary bodies of the EB are the Finance (Audit) and Evaluation Committees, which meet regularly.


The main source of financing for IFAD is voluntary contributions to the fund, which are pledged for three years and then have to be replenished (so-called replenishments).

In addition, it uses reflows from previous loans, funds from bonds on the capital market and program-related special contributions and co-financing to finance programmes and projects and its institutional costs.

For some years now, the member states have also had the option of increasing their contributions through loans.

The 12th replenishment period (IFAD12), which covers the period from 2022 to 2024, is currently running until the end of December 2024.

So far, around 1.28 billion US dollars have been pledged for this cycle by 116 donors (including from developing countries). With this and other inflows (see above), IFAD has a loan and grant program of around USD 3.354 billion (excluding project-related co-financing) at its disposal.

The replenishment round for the period 2025 to 2027 (IFAD13) has already reached a record level of around USD 1.387 billion by mid-2024.

Further commitments (including additional climate contributions and concessional loans) are expected by the start of IFAD13 in 2025, meaning that the lending volume will exceed the level of IFAD12.

Programme implementation

Decisions on the country-by-country allocation of core resources from the replenishments are made using the Performance Based Allocation System (PBAS) on the basis of numerous criteria and international indicators.

These include

  • performance, development orientation, need and absorption capacity of the country,
  • number of impoverished rural population;
  • assessment of development capacity in the area of rural development;
  • vulnerability.

Core resources are reserved for low-income countries (LICs) and lower-middle-income countries (LMICs), while funds raised on the capital market (which are less concessional) can also be used in upper-middle-income countries (UMICs).

This ensures that the replenishment funds are reserved for the poorer developing countries.

The regional focus of IFAD12 is on Africa (target: 55%).

IFAD and Germany

  • With a core contribution of around 89 million euros, Germany is one of the largest contributors to IFAD12 (2022-24). The same contribution has been pledged for IFAD13 (2025-27).
  • In addition, there are programme funds for co-financing (multi-year portfolio in implementation in 2023 amounting to around USD 177 million), primarily in the areas of gender and youth employment in rural areas, climate, agroecology and resilience building as well as private sector support for smallholder farmers and small and medium-sized enterprises.
  • Furthermore, IFAD was supported by the BMZ in dealing with the consequences of COVID-19 and the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine on small farmers in developing countries.
  • In July 2016, the BMZ agreed a strategic partnership with IFAD (Joint Declaration) to promote joint investments and development strategies for rural areas.
  • The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) also supports the International Land Coalition, which is based at IFAD and campaigns for the land rights of smallholder farmers and women, among others, worldwide.
  • The Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau, which already provided IFAD with a loan of 400 million euros in 2017, concluded a further loan agreement with IFAD for a promotional loan of 400 million euros at the end of 2021.
  • In October 2019, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with IFAD on global program-related cooperation and cooperates with IFAD in various thematic areas. The MoU is due to be renewed in 2024.
  • Germany also repeatedly supports IFAD through temporary staff secondments (e.g. Junior Professional Officers, GIZ-Trainées).

as of July 2024

IFAD President
Alvaro Lario (Spain), since September 2022

International Fund for Agricultural Development
Via Paolo di Dono, 44
00142 - Rome, Italy
Internet: https://www.ifad.org/en/

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