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IFAD and China set to re-dedicate efforts to global development

CGTN, June 01, 2023
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Editor's note: Decision Makers is a global platform for decision makers to share their insights on events shaping today's world. Nii Quaye-Kumah is the Country Director and Representative of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to the People's Republic of China. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of

When one disembarks from a flight at Beijing Capital Airport, the magnificence of the facility is bound to overwhelm you, especially if the last time you visited China was 20-odd years ago. It instantly gives you a sense of the transformation the country has gone through. One's awe deepens while driving into the city with high-rise buildings, well-built highways, and the flashy and efficient electric vehicles that ply them. After spending a few days, you realize why Beijing easily ranks amongst the top 10 cities in the world – it ticks all the boxes on liveability and infrastructure with high scores.

As a development practitioner, my job entails traveling across the country to supervise the implementation of the interventions that the government is co-financing with my institution, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). So far, I have traveled to and across Yunnan, Sichuan, Gansu, Henan, Shaanxi provinces, and the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and have seen life beyond Beijing's shining metropolis. In these places, I have seen the concerted efforts of the central government to work with provincial governments in improving the lives of the people.

From my observation, this has been achieved by providing essential infrastructure including decent accommodation, easy transportation, as well as electricity and telecom services. I saw first-hand what life in rural China is, and I observed from the windows of the high-speed trains I traveled on, how entrenched smallholder agricultural practices are in these areas, similar to what I have seen in other developing countries.

Rural areas remain fundamental to China's development agenda as summed up in "No. 1 central document" for 2023, released in February, which states emphatically that the "agriculture, rural areas, and farmers" problems remain the top priority of the Communist Party of China.

Farmers air harvested corn in Xinmiao Village of Zibo, east China's Shandong Province, October 8, 2022. /Xinhua

The Chinese government acknowledges that despite the success achieved, more work needs to be done to prevent people from relapsing into poverty. The government has further shown a willingness to continue its engagement with development partners such as the IFAD to support the modernization of agriculture and the revitalization of rural areas, to build a beautiful and harmonious countryside that is desirable to live and work in, and to broaden income and wealth security channels for its rural people.

President of the IFAD, Alvaro Lario, will visit China during the first week of June. This will be his first time in the country since being elected as president. He will visit at a crucial time, when the world "re-lives again" and life returns to normal after the World Health Organization's hope-filled official declaration on May 5 that COVID-19 as a global health emergency has come to an end.

The timing of his visit is crucial also because the IFAD is in the process of replenishing its financial resources in order to intensify and expand its work with member countries in dealing with the impact of escalating conflicts in parts of the world, the un-abating process of climate change, and the attendant pressure on household and national budgets. The bottom line is that the IFAD's key beneficiaries, the poor and vulnerable rural people, are the hardest hit, and solutions must be sought to alleviate this pressure and afford them a worthy standard of living. 

President Lario's message is expected to touch on three areas. Firstly, underscores the importance of China as a key partner to the Fund in particular and to the global development agenda in general, and assures the country of a strong partnership for its rural revitalization agenda.

Secondly, encourages China to be a leader in the IFAD's 13th replenishment of resources. President Lario will also explore additional funding sources through South-South and Triangular Cooperation mechanisms and Concessional Partner Loans.

Thirdly, reiterates the IFAD's areas of work and the renewed commitment to stepping up its operations in fragile and conflict situations to attain a resilient future against the backdrop of growing and recurrent global crises, the pandemic, and climate change. President Lario will also visit the field to engage directly with project beneficiaries.