IFAD: International Fund for Agricultural Development – Core Contribution

Project completed

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is a specialised agency of the United Nations mandated to enable poor rural women and men to improve their food security and nutrition, raise their incomes and strengthen their resilience. Its mandate therefore dovetails with the priorities of Switzerland's development policy.

Topic Period Budget
Agriculture & food security
Climate change and environment
Agricultural development
Agriculture value-chain development (til 2016)
Environmental policy
01.01.2016 - 31.12.2018
CHF  45’087’000

IFAD’s work focuses on poor rural people, including poor smallholder farmers, fishermen and pastoralists, as well as landless and indigenous people.
Its programmes aim at improving poor rural people's access to financial services, markets, technology, land and natural resources. As an international financial institution, IFAD provides grants and loans on favourable terms to countries affected by widespread rural poverty. IFAD also provides expertise in the agricultural sector and supports innovation.


In its work, IFAD focuses on the following areas:

  • Natural resources – land, water, energy and biodiversity
  • Climate change adaptation and mitigation
  • Improved agricultural technologies and effective production services
  • A broad range of inclusive financial services
  • Integration of poor rural people within value chains
  • Rural enterprise development and non-farm employment opportunities
  • Technical and vocational skills development
  • Support to rural producers’ organisations

Results of new agricultural technologies and production services

In Asia and the Pacific, programmes supported by IFAD in 2012 helped 100,000 farmers adopt more efficient technologies. More than 90% of them subsequently reported higher yields. In Vietnam, for example, projects to raise productivity helped to improve food security in mountainous areas.
Rice production increased from 2 to 5 tonnes per hectare, and 3 tonnes of maize instead of 1 were harvested from the same land surface area.

Switzerland’s commitment

Switzerland’s priorities

As a member of and contributor to IFAD, Switzerland focuses in particular on the following issues:

  • Strengthening IFAD’s role as a global facilitator and coordinator of efforts between governments, farmers’ organisations, women’s groups, the private sector, agricultural research institutions and other stakeholders, on behalf of the rural poor in developing countries.
  • Supporting the progressive adaptation of IFAD’s operational model towards a decentralised organisation, in line with the reform of its human resources policy.
  • Supporting an effective and efficient division of labour between IFAD’s Independent Office of Evaluation (IOE ) (responsible for carrying out independent evaluations of IFAD’s operations), the Evaluation Committee (responsible for supervising the IOE ’s work and providing guidance) and IFAD’s management (responsible for monitoring IFAD’s self-evaluation system), with a view to strengthening IFAD’s development effectiveness.

Switzerland is represented in the highest decision-making body, the Governing Council, and is also a member of the Executive Board for the years 2013 and 2014.
The Executive Board decides on the work programme and approves projects, programmes and grants.

Results: The "First Mile" project in Tanzania

Switzerland supported the "First Mile" project, which was launched as a learning initiative for local groups designed to make it easier for smallholder farmers to access the market. The project was implemented by the Swiss centre of excellence AGRIDEA with the help of the IFAD-supported Agricultural Marketing Systems Development Programme AMSDP. While the project ended in 2009, the resulting local networks of traders continue to provide improved market access services to smallholders in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.


The challenges faced by IFAD in its work include issues such as the need to continuously enhance country ownership of local projects in order to ensure the sustainability of programmes supported by IFAD. IFAD's efficiency and coordination with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) also need to be continuously improved.