IFDC’s Second Decade: Reviving Markets

reviving
IFDC saw many challenges in its second decade, facing head-on a deathly famine in sub-Saharan Africa and the economic aftershocks from the fall of communism. Though challenging, these and other experiences caused the center to grow in reputation and in the scope of our work.

Beginning in the 1960s and reaching the greatest level of devastation in the mid-1980s, a pervasive drought and the resulting famine killed 100,000 people in the Sahel region of Africa.

Of the survivors, 750,000 depended solely on food aid to survive. The economies, agriculture, livestock and human populations of much of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, among other countries, were severely impacted.

In response, IFDC increased activity in West Africa, spearheading projects in over 15 countries. Working with international partners, national governments and research institutions, these projects created sustainable, market-driven solutions for greater food production. The heightened sense of urgency in Africa led IFDC to establish its first permanent office on the continent, situated in Lomé, Togo. From there, IFDC continued to expand its range of fertilizer research, training and technical assistance activities throughout Africa.

Further east, work in Bangladesh was thriving after the success of IFDC’s Fertilizer Distribution Improvement projects. The improved markets eased the introduction of a technology IFDC had been perfecting in benchmark trials across Asia: fertilizer deep placement (FDP). Introduced in Bangladesh in 1986, FDP curtails fertilizer use and magnifies yields. Since its introduction, the technology has spread to more than 1.5 million Bangladeshi farmers, and its use is being expanded to an additional 1 million farmers across the country.

Near the end of IFDC’s second decade, communism began to fall. Countries such as Albania lost political and economic support, leaving citizens helpless. In late 1991, USAID tasked IFDC with building a revitalized agriculture sector in Albania to help stabilize the nation’s economy. In 1993, IFDC helped create the Albanian Fertilizer and Agribusiness Dealers Association (AFADA), of which Joseph Limprecht, the U.S. Ambassador to Albania from 1999 to 2002, said “It’s not only the basis for Albania’s modern, competitive agricultural economy but…the foundation for Albania’s faith in the free market.”

IFDC’s experience in Albania would forever change the way the Center approached agricultural development. It set a new standard for IFDC: holistic involvement in market development. A centerpiece for the third decade of projects, this new market development approach became the lynchpin of global efforts.

View a photo collection depicting our second decade.

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