IFAD and Turkey establish new sub-regional hub in Istanbul

ROME - An agreement to open a new sub-regional office in Istanbul, for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialised agency of the United Nations, was signed yesterday with the Government of Turkey. It shall serve as an operational hub in the Eastern Europe, Caucasus, Central Asia and Balkan region.

 The agreement was signed in Ankara by Donal Brown, IFAD’s Associate Vice-President, Programme Management Division, and Akif Özkaldi, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry of the Republic of Turkey.

 “Today's signing marks a key milestone in the long-standing collaboration between the Republic of Turkey and IFAD,” said Brown. "We are proud of over 35 years of fruitful cooperation and strategic partnership, during which IFAD and Turkey have financed 11 projects totaling about US$775 million reaching over 7.5 million rural people.”

 "IFAD-funded interventions, which are closely aligned to the country’s agriculture and rural development strategies, have helped to develop the agriculture sector and the rural economy resulting in improved living conditions and increased incomes and employment opportunities for smallholder farmers and the rural communities mainly in the upland areas of Turkey," he added.

 According to reports, Turkey remains the world’s seventh-largest agricultural economy. Farming is crucial to rural development in the country, as well as employment, exports and much of manufacturing.

 The focus of IFAD-supported projects in Turkey has been on increasing agricultural productivity, profitability and marketability. They also aim to promote sustainable natural resources management by providing rural communities with affordable access to assets and services.

 Building on this sound foundation and in-line with the government’s National Rural Development Strategy, IFAD will be adopting innovative approaches to boost rural transformation. The next generation of IFAD-funded programmes and projects in Turkey will focus on developing and strengthening climate-smart value chains backed by appropriate financing mechanisms to ensure inclusivity and sustainability.

 “The sub-regional hub in Istanbul will strengthen our portfolio across the sub-region and enhance our fruitful partnerships with Governments in Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan,” said Khalida Bouzar, IFAD's Regional Director for the Near East, North Africa, Central Asia and Europe Division.

 Bouzar added, “Istanbul is a strategic choice. Building on our successful partnership with Turkey and Istanbul's importance as an economic centre, it will allow us to serve IFAD's portfolio in the sub-region in a more cost-effective way and to create a South-South corridor for sharing valuable experiences.”

 The Istanbul hub manages an investment portfolio of 21 ongoing projects amounting to $1 billion, reaching an estimated 13.9 million rural people.