By Olamide Tejuoso
Following the induction of Ukraine as the 178th country to join the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), small-scale farmers, who are playing a critical role in feeding the population during the war, would be eligible for funding through the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) from 2025. The country’s membership was supported by the IFAD’s directing council, which is the organisation’s most significant decision-making body. IFAD had embarked on discussions regarding membership with the Ukrainian government since 2016.
Ukraine has had a long and historic relationship with the United Nations. It was one of the UN’s founding members and had served in many capacities, including as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (2016-2017). The President of IFAD, Alvaro Lario stated that, “We are delighted to welcome Ukraine as our newest member. Ukraine’s membership is strongly aligned with IFAD’s mission to ensure that all rural people, particularly small-scale farmers, are included and empowered”. The Ambassador of Ukraine to Italy, Yaroslav Melnyk, said, “A pioneer of the United Nations, Ukraine, is regarded as one of the guarantors of global food security and a significant agricultural producer with a lot to contribute, as a member of IFAD.
Even with the war, Ukraine is more than committed to contributing to global food security to alleviate the food crisis and salvage millions of people from hunger”, he added. A recent report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, has it that many Ukrainians living in rural areas are on the brink of poverty, with 44 per cent living below subsistence levels and 7 per cent suffering malnutrition. Similarly, Ukraine’s agricultural sector, one of the globe’s top wheat, sunflower oil, and corn distributors, has experienced nearly US$2.2 billion in losses since the beginning of the war in 2022. This consequently resulted in food price hike, high fertilizer and fuel costs, which in turn, affected production and triggered a hike in prices, hence forcing small-scale farmers to choose between financing food purchases or planting.
Small-scale food producers in impoverished regions have been among the immensely affected by the food crisis. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s agri-food sector is a critical source of livelihood for the estimated 13 million Ukrainians living in rural areas. With this induction, Ukraine will be wholly integrated in IFAD’s next funding cycle, starting in 2025. Membership in IFAD will give farmers access to both grants and loans, as well as supplementary funds, officials said. Ukraine’s membership would come into effect upon the deposit of Ukraine’s instrument of accession with the UN Secretary-General.