IFAD in Brazil
Brazil is a major agricultural and industrial power with the strongest economy in Latin America and the seventh strongest in the world. The country has made significant progress in poverty reduction since the early 2000s. Between 2004 and 2013, the proportion of the population living in poverty decreased from 22 per cent to 8.9 per cent. Today, more than 18 million people still live below the poverty line; more than 8 million people are extremely poor.
Although the decline of poverty has been more acute in the north-east than in the rest of the country, the north-east still lags behind. One in four people in the region's rural areas live in poverty. In many municipalities poverty rates are above 60 per cent, with some reaching 90 per cent.
Since it started collaborating with Brazil's federal and state governments in the 1980s, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has been investing in rural development activities in the north-eastern semi-arid region of the country known as sertão. Now, it is expanding its operations through two new projects in the Maranhão Amazonian transition area, and in Pernambuco pre-sertão area (agreste) and coastal rainforest (mata atlantica).
All IFAD-funded projects in the country focus on supporting and promoting family farming. The goal is to increase family farmers' production and income by facilitating their access to essential services (training, rural finance and technical support with special attention to climate-smart technologies), strengthening their organizations and connecting them to markets.
One of the main features of IFAD-supported operations in Brazil has been their quest for technical innovations and best agricultural practices that provide family farmers with appropriate tools to thrive in north-eastern Brazil's harsh environment. Examples include organic and agroecological production methods, water collection and conservation technologies, and participatory planning methodologies that take advantage of both innovation and traditional knowledge.
IFAD works to ensure that the most marginalized groups, such as indigenous and quilombola (Afro-descendant) communities, agrarian reform settlers, women and youth, benefit from its projects.
Over the years, the lessons learned from IFAD-funded operations in Brazil have been shared with government officials, civil society, the private sector and family farmers via policy dialogue forums and the knowledge-sharing programme Semear (meaning "to sow" in Portuguese).
Networking for scaling up is a key feature of IFAD's country programme for Brazil, which is now expanding its web of strategic partners among international cooperation and United Nations agencies and top-tier Brazilian financial institutions.