Weather conditions are wreaking havoc on food production – Finland responds with climate funding
A long-term loan from Finland is being used to revitalise agriculture and other rural livelihoods affected by climate change in developing countries. The funding aims to increase food security and create employment for young people.
The EUR 50 million loan to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is part of Finland’s financial investments in development cooperation. For the first time, the beneficiaries of the financial investments are the poorest small farmers, rather than companies. Small farmers are responsible for 80 per cent of the food production in developing countries, and the majority of them are women.
As a result of climate change, farmers are plagued by dwindling crops and deepening poverty. The effects of climate change are most devastating to those countries where food security is already weak. More than 800 million people currently suffer from a shortage of food, food security is wavering and the number of undernourished people is on the rise.
Food producers face conflicts and extreme weather conditions, including unpredictable droughts and floods. Climate change depletes the nutrients in soil and leads to an increase pest populations and plant diseases, which threaten staple crops.
“Small farmers produce half of the world’s food, despite their lack of funding, irrigation, seeds and access to the market. IFAD provides access to necessary resources and helps farmers adapt their production to the demands of a changing climate in a sustainable manner. Finland is a very important partner for us in terms of both financing and programming, and we and Finland share the same goals,” says IFAD President Gilbert Houngbo.Finland supports women and youth
Finland has been supporting small farmers’ sustainable agricultural production for a long time. Farmers are encouraged to collaborate with one another, identify new markets, connect to value chains and thereby increase their revenue. Small loans are also used to create jobs in places other than farms. Support from Finland is targeted particularly at women and youth.
In order to improve the productivity of farming and the quality of food, farmers need information, skills and production tools, as well as the right to use the land.
In Africa, the majority of food is produced by women small-scale farmers, who own only a fraction of the land. If land ownership rights are unclear, it is difficult to make investments to improve agriculture.
In Ethiopia, the Finland-backed Reila project has registered 440,000 plots of land, home to around half a million people, for use by farmers. Registering the land enables residents to obtain a loan to develop their farming practices or start a small business.
Finland also supports the AgroBIG project, which has benefited 300,000 farmers and their families in Ethiopia. Thanks to the project, the yields per hectare of onions, potatoes, corn and rice have grown by as much as 60 per cent. Larger harvests and higher-quality products increase the incomes of farming families many times over.How can we promote climate-wise farming?
As the climate changes, farmers must find ways to produce food sustainably and adapt to changing weather conditions. Climate-wise farming can increase the productivity of agriculture, help it to adapt to the changing climate and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Food production can be adapted to changes in weather conditions by choosing drought-resistant plant species. Sowing and harvesting seasons can be adjusted and the arability of the soil can be improved. Farmers can also adapt to changing climate conditions through agroforestry, crop rotation and by modifying their use of water.
The author works in the Department for Communications of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
- Operates in the same way as the World Bank, granting financing in the form of donations and long-term credits to developing countries. Finland has contributed additional funding to IFAD through partnership loans and EUR 10.6 million in traditional donations.
- IFAD is an active player in questions concerning gender equality and the climate. Half of the people who benefit from project financing are women. Youth and youth employment are important priorities in IFAD’s work.
- The fund reports annually on the results and development impact of its work and is a leader in measuring the reduction of poverty.
- Finland is a member of IFAD's Executive Board for 2018–2020, which gives the country an excellent opportunity to influence the organisation’s activities.