Specialized Agencies

HQ location


Date established



GA Resolution 32/107

Joined CEB

6 April 1978



The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is an international financial institution and UN specialised agency dedicated to eradicating poverty in rural areas of developing countries.  The Fund was established in 1977 as one of the major outcomes of the 1974 World Food Conference.

IFAD provides low-interest loans and grants to developing countries to finance innovative agricultural and rural development programmes and projects. The Fund is among the top three multilateral institutions working in agriculture in Africa, and is the only institution that has focused exclusively on smallholder development. 

IFAD-supported programmes and projects ensure that poor rural people have better access, and the skills and organisation needed, to take advantage of:

  • Natural resources, especially secure access to land and water, and improved natural resource management and conservation practices
  • Improved agricultural technologies and effective production services
  • A broad range of financial services
  • Transparent and competitive markets for agricultural inputs and produce
  • Opportunities for rural off-farm employment and enterprise development
  • Local and national policy and programming processes.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have guided IFAD's work since 2000, in particular the first goal to halve the proportion of people suffering from hunger and extreme poverty by 2015.

The great majority of IFAD's resources are provided to low-income countries on highly concessional terms, under which the loans are repayable over 40 years, with a 10-year grace period, at zero percent interest and a 0.75 percent service charge. In 2007, IFAD's Executive Board approved the Fund's debt sustainability framework (DSF), replacing loans with grants for poor countries unable to sustain debt. The framework is part of a unified effort by multilateral financial institutions to ensure that essential economic assistance does not cause undue financial hardship for countries most in need. 

Since starting operations, IFAD has invested more than $12.5 billion in grants and low-interest loans, supporting about 860 programmes and projects that have helped about 370 million people achieve better lives for themselves and their families. Co-financing has been provided by governments, project participants, multilateral and bilateral donors, and other partners.

The Governing Council is IFAD's highest decision-making authority. Each Member State is represented on the Council by a governor and/or an alternate governor.  The Executive Board is responsible for overseeing IFAD's general operations and approving the Fund's programme of work. 

The Board consists of 18 elected members and up to 18 alternate members, all of whom have three-year terms of office. Membership, which comprises eight members and up to eight alternate members from List A, four members and four alternate members from List B, and six members and six alternate members from List-C, is determine by the Governing Council. The President is the head of staff and conducts the organisation's business under the direction of the Governing Council and Executive Board.  The President chairs the Executive Board and is IFAD's legal representative.

IFAD membership is open to any state that is a member of the UN or its specialised agencies, or the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Countries may join the Fund after approval by IFAD's Governing Council and accession to the Agreement Establishing IFAD.

Following a change to IFAD's governance structure approved by the Governing Council at its 20th session in 1997 (IFAD res. 86/XVIII), countries in the former Category I (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) members) were reclassified as List A, former Category II (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) members) as List B, and former Category III (developing countries) as List C 

The latter list has three sub-lists: Cl for countries in Africa; C2 for Europe, Asia and the Pacific; and C3 for Latin America and the Caribbean. Upon joining the Fund, new members decide which list they wish to be placed on, after consultation with the members of that list. States are also periodically allowed to withdraw from one list to be placed on another, with the approval of members on that list.

IFAD has a total membership of 166 countries: 22 in List A, 12 in List Band 132 in list C.  States that are currently members or alternate members (shown in brackets) of the Executive Board, and whose term of office end in February 2012, are:

  • List A

Canada (Ireland)
France (Belgium)
Germany (Luxembourg)
Italy (Austria)
Japan (Denmark)
Netherlands (UK)
Sweden (Norway)
USA (Spain)

  • List B

Kuwait (UAE)
Nigeria (Qatar)
Saudi Arabia (Indonesia)
Venezuela (Algeria)

  • List C
  • Sub-list C1 Africa

Burkina Faso (Angola)
Cameroon (Egypt)

  • Sub-list C2 Europe, Asia and the Pacific

China (Bangladesh)  , India (Cyprus)

  • Sub-list C3 Latin America and the Caribbean

Brazil (Argentina)  , Mexico (Guatemala)

The Governing Council meets once a year, usually in February. The Executive Board meets three times a year, usually in April, September and December.

Via Paolo di Dono, 44
00142 Rome, Italy
Tel: (+39 06) 54591
Fax: (+39 06) 5043 463

Agreements between IFAD and the UN