Nearly a billion people go hungry every day, most of them in developing countries.
The world produces plenty of food—more than enough to feed every man, woman, and child. Yet nearly a billion people go hungry every day, most of them in developing countries.
That paradox reflects an unpleasant fact: poverty and hunger are inextricably linked. Poor people spend most of their scant income on food, making them acutely vulnerable to food-price increases. Even short-term increases can have long-term consequences, depriving children of the nutrition necessary for a healthy and productive life.
Food prices have soared over the last few years, posing an urgent development challenge. IFC has responded strongly. We have made food security a strategic priority, launching a variety of innovative initiatives to help make food available where it’s needed most, and at affordable prices.
Our approach is comprehensive. It emphasizes increased access to finance for farmers and agribusinesses, a more favorable investment climate, knowledge and technology transfer, environmental and social sustainability, public-private partnerships, and more efficient use of land, water, and energy.
In FY12, we launched the Critical Commodities Finance Program to expand agricultural-commodity trade finance in all developing countries while addressing energy needs in the poorest countries. The program is expected to support up to $18 billion in trade over the next three years.
We helped farmers earn a steady income through our new Global Warehouse Finance Program. The program allows farmers to get cash quickly when they deliver their crops to warehouses. Ordinarily, farmers must wait until their goods are shipped from the warehouse—which can take weeks. Our program enables farmers to borrow instantly against receipts they obtain for commodity deliveries.
In addition, we expanded our Agricultural Price Risk Management program to Africa and the Middle East, enabling access to funding and risk management for importers and exporters in these two critical regions.
IFC also manages the private sector window of the World Bank Group’s Global Agribusiness and Food Security Program, which is designed to expand funding for food-security programs in developing countries. The private sector window provides loans, credit guarantees, and equity investment to support private sector activities to strengthen food security.
We know that food security is a challenge we cannot address on our own. As the global population grows in the next four decades, food production will need to increase by 70 percent. Developing countries will need an average annual net nvestment of $83 billion. Getting there will require innovation and collaboration on a global scale. IFC is ideally positioned to play a critical role.