The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has been the focus of multilateral cooperation since its adoption in 2015. Seven years later, and despite the enormous progress achieved, global crises like climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic seem to have curtailed that progress and even set back achievements in poverty reduction and food security. The challenges humanity faces today are global and as such, so should the response. To strengthen actions in this regard, partnerships among development actors, such as through South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC), will be crucial. SSTC adds a layer of Global South perspectives to development approaches by promoting knowledge, innovations and expertise that address the specific needs of developing countries.
IFAD has long been a strong advocate of SSTC drawing on its expertise and on its strong network of partners ranging from multilateral development banks with considerable international experience to civil society organizations deeply rooted and anchored in local contexts. These partnerships are crucial for mobilizing innovations and solutions to broaden our reach and impact on the ground. They are also essential for building the needed synergies to scale-up the knowledge and development results we acquire throughout our operations. Below are two partnerships that; in our opinion, highlight very accurately the spirit of this approach.
IFAD plays a significant role in mobilizing knowledge through SSTC to support rural transformation. To this end, following the establishment of the IFAD Rural Solutions Portal, in 2018, IFAD partnered with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to document and promote rural innovations across Africa and Asia. Over the last three years, the collaboration has led to the identification of more than 40 rural innovations covering challenges such as climate change, rural finance, food insecurity, market access, etc. A recent publication to boost the uptake of the documented solutions was born out of this partnership, highlighting some of the solutions documented in Kenya, Tanzania, and other African countries. Here are three innovations that span the agri-food value chain:
In sub-Saharan Africa, the use of machinery by smallholder farmers is very limited due to high capital costs. In Nigeria, only an estimated 50,000 tractors are available to support millions of smallholder farmers. Hello Tractor, a technology promoted by a Kenyan company, connects tractor owners and smallholder farmers through a farm equipment management and sharing application. Since 2017, about 250,000 smallholder farmers have benefited from the service in Nigeria, Kenya and other African countries.
Post-harvest storage is another challenging concern for smallholders. Knowing when products are dry enough can be difficult, and the process can lead to contamination, contributing to the staggering amount of post-harvest loss estimated by WFP at one-third of all food produced for human consumption. DryCard is an innovative solution that addresses this problem. It allows farmers to measure the relative humidity of dried food before storage. Users place a sample of a dried product in an airtight container with an indicator strip and within an hour, they can determine if the product is adequately dry to store.
Another difficulty facing farmers in the agri-food value chain is that of financing and market access. Smallholder farmers are the most underreached by financial providers. They usually harvest their crops at the same time, which means that when the time comes to sell the produce, the market is flooded, leaving them with no option but to sell their produce at rock-bottom prices. The SELF Microfinance solution is a loan account solution which covers specific production activities and meets household obligations. Upon harvesting their crops, farmers are able to deposit their produce in a warehouse, and is counted as money deposited in a bank account. A farmer can take up a loan against the harvest deposited. In the meantime, the stored produce is stored well, for sale when prices are favourable.
These solutions are documented across the Global South and shared through IFAD’s Rural Solutions Portal to assist in improving development interventions. However, IFAD’s work does not end there. Through its SSTC agenda, it aims to effectively assemble and transform knowledge, including through strategic partnerships and business linkages, into better development tools for poor rural people for greater impact. To do so, the Fund identifies the areas where these solutions are most needed, on a demand driven basis, for example during the development and implementation of its country strategies or by mapping local needs and matching these with potential suppliers through its country offices.
The implementation of the documented solutions to fill identified gaps is further supported by our existing partnerships, which contribute to a database of experts, institutions and companies engaging in South-south and Triangular Cooperation. This is the case of an on-going collaboration with the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), a long-standing partner of IFAD. The collaboration aims to identify centers of excellence and institutions from the Global South that have accumulated a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field of agriculture and rural development. It will lead to a publication on the mapped institutions with the ultimate goal of taping into their experience, knowledge and resources for the uptake of rural solutions. The database has already benefited from the contribution of the International Poverty Reduction Center of China (IPRCC) and the Brazil Africa Institute (IBRAF), who sourced development solutions from the Asia and Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean regions respectively. “By fostering collaborative action and bringing together multiple organizations through SSTC, IFAD looks to transform knowledge and technology into business opportunities to improve rural livelihood.” explains Wei Wang, Chief Partnership Officer and Special Adviser to the President of IFAD.
The highlighted solutions are only a glimpse of the potential impact SSTC can have. Achieving that potential requires stepping up the global effort to identify and mobilize enough resources for their adoption and dissemination. IFAD’s on-going SSTC partnerships are geared toward the achievement of that vision, and we look to build new and innovative collaborations for its realisation.