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Misean Cara welcomes the initiation of the Irish Forum for International Agricultural Development (IFIAD) that was launched last month to meet the demands of realising sustainable agriculture and food security in overseas countries.

IFIAD aims to bring together actors and experts from agriculture and food sector to share knowledge and good practices for the benefit of agricultural development programmes in support of development objectives in Ireland. The Minister of State for the Diaspora and Overseas Development Aid, Joe McHugh TD launched the event at the RDS.

L-R: Agriculture Advisor at Concern Worldwide Paul Wagstaff; Maureen O’Dwyer from the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary, Connie O’Halloran from the Spiritans and Misean Cara Project Officer Don Lucey. Photo: Tosin Omiyale.

L-R: Agriculture Advisor at Concern Worldwide Paul Wagstaff; Maureen O’Dwyer from the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary, Connie O’Halloran from the Spiritans and Misean Cara Project Officer Don Lucey. Photo: Tosin Omiyale.

As a nation with success in the agri-food sector, Ireland has shown global leadership in developing agriculture and sustainable livelihood in developing countries. While agricultural productivity continues to rise in some of these countries, there is still a significant gap in reaching abundant yields to combat poverty and hunger, and yields have declined particularly in African States.

According to Dr. Ousmane Badiane, the Africa Director for the International Food Policy Research Institute: “agriculture investment has gone up in most African States, but there is still high level of poverty and hunger in these States, even though poverty and malnutrition were on a decline by 30% between 1990s and 2000s.”

Dr. Badiane who spoke at the launch event, called on stakeholders and international partners interested in development agriculture in Africa to take advantage of the ongoing recovery and growth in the sector and build on it.

Despite the promising change in agriculture overseas, challenges still persist such as climate change, meeting knowledge demand in the sector, food insecurity, policy change at the government level and support for farmers.

The Minister of State for the Diaspora and Overseas Development Aid, Joe McHugh TD at the launch of the IFIAD. Photo: Tosin Omiyale.

The Minister of State for the Diaspora and Overseas Development Aid, Joe McHugh TD at the launch of the IFIAD. Photo: Tosin Omiyale.

In this light, IFIAD promises to draw on Irish expertise through a multi-disciplinary engagement of researchers, policy makers, practitioners, entrepreneurs, and technologist to maximise Irish contribution to agricultural growth in developing countries through generation, sharing and application of experiences, knowledge and innovation in agriculture for development.

Misean Cara’s Project Officer Don Lucey says that “development agriculture is central to the objectives of Misean Cara to ensure income generation and livelihoods for vulnerable communities in developing countries. It is also instrumental to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in reducing poverty and hunger by 2030. Agriculture is way of life for many rural communities and has social and economic benefits, including employment and livelihood opportunities”.

Some Misean Cara members also participated in the working groups at the launch of IFIAD and contributed to talks on how the forum will best deliver on its objectives.

Missionaries contribute to the growth of agriculture and food security in developing countries, having worked with farmers and rural communities on transformative agriculture and livelihood projects that has generated income and food for marginalised people.

Special Report by Misean Cara Intern Tosin Omiyale.