Rome (July 18, 2019) — The President of the United Nations’ International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Gilbert F. Houngbo, will meet the Prime Minister of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR), Thongloun Sisoulith, the Prime Minister of Cambodia, Hun Sen, other high-ranking officials, as well as representatives of UN teams in country, to discuss investments that can improve food and nutrition security, generate employment and mitigate the effects of climate change in rural areas.
The visit will focus on the role of smallholder farmers in improving household nutrition and food security. The delegation will be in Lao PDR 22 -25 July and in Cambodia 25 – 27 July.
“In Lao PDR and Cambodia, the majority of smallholder farmers practice subsistence agriculture, but they have the potential to develop their farm businesses if they have access to finance, training, technology, and commercial markets,” said Houngbo before his visit.
“IFAD is an experienced development partner, working with governments to transform rural areas, reduce poverty and hunger, and increase livelihoods for rural smallholders in the region,” he added.
In Lao PDR, approximately 80 per cent of the population live in rural areas and depend on agriculture and natural resources for their survival. Most farmers use traditional farming methods and lack access to irrigation and good roads. Many struggle to meet their households’ food requirements, making malnutrition a critical issue, with chronic malnutrition affecting 33 per cent of children under five.
Similarly, in Cambodia, poverty continues to affect a high proportion of rural families, with two-thirds of the country’s 1.6 million rural households facing seasonal food shortages.
In addition to the Prime Minister, during his visit to Lao PDR, Houngbo will meet with the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Lien Thikeo, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Somdy Douangdy, and other development partners. He will travel to Xiengkhouang Province to visit the IFAD-managed Strategic Support for Food Security and Nutrition Project and meet with participants to see how their lives have been impacted by the project, as well as to hear about the challenges that they still face. The project helps smallholder farmers produce crops and livestock that correspond to market demand, while facilitating collaboration between farmers and the private sector.
In Cambodia, Houngbo will meet with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance, Aun Pornmoniroth as well as the Minister of Rural Development, Ouk Rabun, and others. He will visit the IFAD-supported Agriculture Services Programme for Innovation, Resilience and Extension, and meet with project participants to see first-hand the progress they have made due to training, extension services and improved infrastructure (roads, irrigation, markets) in support of agricultural production.
IFAD began operations in Lao PDR in 1978 and has implemented 15 projects, investing US$156 million and directly benefitting 329,775 households. Currently three projects are ongoing.
IFAD began operations in Cambodia in 1996 and has implemented 9 projects, investing US$152 million and directly benefitting 1,338,500 households. Currently three loan projects and one grant project are ongoing.
IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided US$20.9 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached about 483 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome – the United Nations’ food and agriculture hub.