International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)


Organization Profile:

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is an international financial institution and specialized United Nations agency based in Rome, the UN’s food and agriculture hub. Since 1978, IFAD has provided US$23.2 billion in grants and low-interest loans. 

IFAD catalyses public and private investments, helps strengthen policies and promotes innovation, in order to achieve sustainable benefits for the poor at scale and support all countries to achieve lasting, systemic change. IFAD is the only specialized global development organisation exclusively focused on and dedicated to transforming agriculture, rural economies and food systems. They target their support to reach the last mile and remotest areas, to help millions of rural people to increase their productivity and access markets, create and access jobs and rural economic growth, increase their incomes, move out of poverty and improve their food and nutrition security, build their resilience in the face of a changing climate and manage the natural resource base sustainably, improve their coping mechanisms in fragile and conflict environments, and strengthen their voice, capacities and organizations. 

IFAD promotes agricultural growth that is environmentally sustainable and integrated into ecosystems. IFAD’s Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) is the largest global climate adaptation programme for smallholder farmers. It channels climate and environmental finance to smallholder farmers, helping them to reduce poverty, enhance biodiversity, increase yields and lower greenhouse gas emissions.  

With a mobilization target of US$500 million, ASAP+ is envisioned to be the largest fund dedicated to channelling climate finance to small-scale producers, helping to increase resilience, food security and carbon mitigation and sequestration. It builds on the successes and lessons learnt from the first two phases of the programme—ASAP.  

IFAD is also an executing agency of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and of the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Through these programmes, IFAD works with partners to scale up successful approaches to sustainable agricultural production and green value chains. These approaches build climate resilience by managing competing land-use systems while reducing poverty, enhancing biodiversity, increasing yields and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. In forest contexts, this often means improving incomes for poor people who depend on forest resources for their livelihood, while ensuring that the forest environment is protected, and the present trend of rapid depletion is reversed. 

Financing Instruments: Loans, Grants

Project Scale: Forest-related projects have received financing from IFAD in the range of US$12 million to 65 million.  

Recipient countries/ regions/country groups: Global

Recipient categories: Governments, NGOs/NPOs, Businesses, Research Organizations 

Eligibility Criteria: 

The resources of the Fund available for developing Member States shall be provided in accordance with a Performance-Based Allocation System (PBAS) and the Borrowed Resources Access Mechanism (BRAM) as established by the Executive Board. Lending terms are determined in accordance with the Policies and Criteria for IFAD Financing, primarily based on a country's gross national income (GNI) per capita (as per World Bank calculation using Atlas methodology) and a creditworthiness assessment. 

The PBAS resources are provided through the Debt Sustainability Framework (DSF) for grants, loans on super highly concessional, highly concessional, blend, and ordinary terms. 

IFAD grants support research, innovation, institutional change and pro-poor technologies. They are closely linked to country programmes and often support connections between different initiatives in a country. 

IFAD extends two types of grants, depending on the nature of the innovation and the scope of intervention: global or regional grants, and country-specific grants. 

  • Global and regional grants fund innovative responses to rural and agricultural challenges being faced by several partner countries. These grants are driven by thematic and regional corporate-level strategic priorities for partnership, research, policy engagement and capacity-building. 
  • Grants for activities implemented in specific countries focus mainly on strengthening institutional, implementation and policy capacities and on innovating in thematic areas. Country-specific grants also pilot new technologies, approaches and methodologies that can subsequently be scaled up through IFAD’s country programmes and by other stakeholders. 

Application Guidelines:

Ensuring that IFAD operations help reduce poverty starts with a clear country strategy that is aligned with government priorities. Through broad country-level consultations, a results-based country strategic opportunities programme (COSOP) is developed. A COSOP draws out the main lessons learned in the country; articulates IFAD’s comparative advantage in that country; defines a limited number of strategic objectives to which all IFAD activities – investment projects, policy engagement and other non-lending activities – will contribute; and presents concept notes for one or more proposed projects. 

Projects are country-owned, and designed with input from rural people themselves. IFAD gives a voice to smallholder organizations and empowers local communities, women and young people. 

Projects also reflect IFAD’s Strategic Framework 2016-2025 and its main objectives: to increase poor rural people’s productive capacities, enable them to benefit from market participation, and strengthen the environmental sustainability and climate resilience of their economic activities. 

IFAD programmes and projects undergo a rigorous two-step quality enhancement and quality assurance process with substantive input from technical experts as well as external peer reviewers. 

Following negotiation of the financing agreement between IFAD and the borrower, the project goes to IFAD's Executive Board for review and approval. 

Last updated: 13 September 2023

Publication Date
Thursday, 01 April 2021
Applicable location
Climate change
Community forestry
Rural development
Financing opportunities