Idris Elba and Sabrina Dhowre Elba lend their voices to World Food Day this year (October 16th), highlighting the crucial role of vulnerable, small-scale farmers in the food system.
Half the calories we consume are grown on small farms, where incomes are fragile, and this fragility has been exacerbated by Covid-19-related disruption.
Since becoming goodwill ambassadors for the United Nations International Fund for Agriculture (IFAD), the couple have thrown themselves into fundraising to support rural communities which would otherwise be devastated by the impact of the pandemic.
IFAD’s Rural Poor Stimulus Facility invests in equipment, seeds, and cash assistance. It helps with crop storage and transportation; supporting livestock and fisheries; providing timely information on weather and markets; and helping out with loans.
“We’re at a pivotal [moment] where we can prevent future generations from suffering,” Idris Elba said.
“IFAD needs more assistance to keep food systems operating in rural areas and avoid needless hunger and suffering.”
“We have hope that with assistance, vulnerable rural people will get through this difficult time”
His wife, Sabrina Dhowre Elba added, “This crisis has shown us we are only as safe as our most vulnerable people.
“It is in all our interests to keep local food systems going, protect rural communities, and mitigate a health crisis.
“The IFAD-run projects we saw in Sierra Leone give us hope that, with the right assistance, vulnerable rural people worldwide will be able to get through this difficult time.”
The couple visited Sierra Leone in December 2019 to see the IFAD response to successive Ebola outbreaks and civil war.
They met people like Isatu, a single mother of four who used the IFAD Smallholder Commercialization Programme to transform swampland into paddy fields. She now produces high quality rice that she sells in her community.
They also met Clement, a farmer and the head of an agricultural business center (ABC) who grows maize, pepper, mango, oranges, and cassava.
Clement secured loans from a farmer-led community bank that allowed him to transform his land. He’s since taken in seven children orphaned by the Ebola crisis.
This World Food Day, the Elbas are calling on countries to invest in IFAD to fight the growing hunger crisis, empower farmers, and create resilient communities.
The United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Japan, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, and others can increase their funding through IFAD’s replenishment. IFAD says that with $1.75 billion, it can double its impact by 2030, helping more rural communities recover from the pandemic and rebuild their lives.
Eighty per cent of people living in rural areas are poor. Many smallholder farmers in rural areas are unable to access the financial support and resources needed to effectively manage their land, maximize crop yield, and bring crops to market.