Rural smallholders in developing countries are increasingly interested in sharing and capturing information on available innovations, technologies, financing opportunities, marketing information and policies that are relevant to their context. Such innovations and solutions have the potential to support their livelihoods, increase agricultural production and productivity, improve their access to markets and financial resources, and enhance their capacity to engage in policy processes at the local and national levels. However, due to the paucity of centralized, systematic and user-friendly repositories, rural smallholders and small and medium-sized enterprises encounter significant difficulties in accessing and benefiting from such information.
Towards a Solution
Given its practical experience in supporting smallholders in implementing projects for rural transformation, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has developed and launched a web-based information platform called the Rural Solutions Portal, aimed at responding to the challenges they face in accessing information. The Portal is developed and maintained by IFAD, which collects and disseminates innovations, success stories and case studies illustrating successful agriculture and rural development solutions implemented by IFAD and other development organizations, with a view to sharing them for improved incomes, food security and nutrition.
A rural development solution is an initiative that solves specific challenges in the rural environment, a tool that can be used and re-used to address common issues such as resource management, marginalization of rural communities, limited access to financing, erosion, pollution, financial stress and the effects of climate change. A rural solution can be a technology, such as a sustainable energy source, a financing scheme that gives rural people access to credit or savings, or a process that supports rural businesses, such as a training programme or a rural enterprise support centre.
By providing a space for solution sharing, IFAD and its partners aim to connect more people and ideas for the benefit of rural communities everywhere. By making solutions available, rural communities, farmers and smallholders can access a variety of innovations and technologies that can support them in overcoming their daily challenges. Once they access the documentation available on the solution(s), Portal users may ask to be connected to the relevant solutions providers to receive additional information and obtain support to replicate the solution in their own development context.
The Rural Solutions Portal, by showcasing innovations and solutions for agriculture and rural development and promoting knowledge-sharing and peer-to-peer learning, plays an important role in meeting several SDGs. By adopting and adapting innovations in their own development context, rural smallholders have an opportunity to: improve their food security as well as their agricultural production and productivity; access innovative technologies to produce clean energy; or improve their access to clean, potable water. Solutions available in the Portal include financing schemes, which provide smallholders and rural small and medium- sized enterprises with improved access to finance, methodologies and policies to improve gender equality and women’s empowerment, as well as opportunities for youth employment.
The Portal’s main users are representatives from international organizations, civil society, national institutions, researchers, farmers’ organizations and associations, development practitioners and smallholders and family farmers, as well as project staff working in development organizations. By bringing together such actors and facilitating their interaction, information sharing and exchanges, the Portal is a key tool to strengthen partnerships and cooperation.
Other similar portals and web platforms dedicated to development solutions have been launched in recent years by a variety of international organizations, including United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations. In this regard, the Rural Solutions Portal will complement other existing portals, as it will be entirely dedicated to showcasing innovations and solutions for agriculture and rural development, with a view to furthering the SDGs.
The Portal will advance the Brasilia Declaration and Action Agenda, which is the main outcome document adopted during the International Conference on South- South and triangular cooperation, entitled Leveraging Innovations from the Global South to Support Rural Transformation, held in Brasilia, Brazil in November 2017, where participants jointly committed to work together on specific areas to promote SSTC as an instrument to help countries achieve the SDGs. In this regard, IFAD, in its unique role as a specialized UN agency and international financial institution dedicated to advancing rural transformation, committed to act as an intermediary to facilitate South-South and triangular cooperation arrangements in the areas of agriculture, rural development and inclusive rural transformation, by promoting knowledge-based technical cooperation, peer-to-peer exchanges of knowledge, sharing of best practices, technology and know-how to improve agricultural productivity.
The Rural Solutions Portal was launched in May 2018 and showcases solutions from IFAD loan- and grant- funded projects. It is currently being expanded with solutions from other development partners, including international financial institutions, UN agencies, non- governmental organizations and others.
Sustainable Development Goal target(s): 2.1, 2.3, 2.5, 2.a, 17.3, 17.6, 17.7, 17.9
Countries/ territories involved: Global
Supported by: IFAD
Implementing entities: IFAD
Project status: Ongoing
Project period: 2016 – present
URL of the practice: http://www.ruralsolutionsportal.org
Name: Mr. Maurizio Navarra, South-South and Triangular Cooperation Specialist, IFAD