Canada announced today that it will be the first country to pledge funds to a new facility set up by the UN\u2019s\u00a0International Fund for Agricultural Development\u00a0(IFAD) to help prevent a food crisis in some of the world\u2019s poorest and most marginalized rural communities in the wake of COVID-19. The Rural Poor Stimulus Facility was launched in April by\u00a0IFAD\u2019s Goodwill Ambassadors, Idris and Sabrina Elba to support small-scale farmers and rural producers to grow and sell food at a time when restrictions in movement and trade threaten to turn the health crisis into a food crisis in high-risk countries. \u201cWe would like to thank Canada for its commitment to the world\u2019s most vulnerable people and for taking on this leading role to commit to the Facility,\u201d said Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD.\u00a0 \u201cWith this support, more rural farmers, particularly women, can have the timely access to the inputs, information, markets and liquidity they need to ensure that the COVID-19 pandemic does not escalate into a bigger humanitarian disaster.\u201d \u201cWe must act quickly to address the impact of COVID-19 on the most vulnerable communities, and Canada is responding to the severe food security needs brought on by the pandemic,\u201d\u00a0said Minister Karina Gould, Canada\u2019s Minister of International Development. \u201cOur investments will be helping to maintain food production and distribution, and protect the world\u2019s poorest from the loss of their livelihoods and the serious health consequences of malnutrition.\u201d Announced at today\u2019s meeting of the Group of Friends on Food Security and Nutrition, Canada will commit CA$6 million to the Facility, on top of a $150 million highly concessional loan for climate-focused activities to the Fund earlier this year. According to the\u00a0Secretary-General\u2019s Policy Brief on the impact of COVID-19 on food security and nutrition released yesterday, the emerging global recession could disrupt the functioning of food systems, with the risk of a global food emergency if immediate action isn\u2019t taken. The\u00a0vast majority of the world\u2019s population\u00a0rely on\u00a0local markets\u00a0for their sustenance, which is often\u00a0highly susceptible to disruption. With their movements restricted in many places to contain further spread of the virus, many rural small-scale producers are unable to access markets to sell products or to buy inputs, such as seeds or fertilizer. Closures of major transport routes and export bans are also likely to affect food systems adversely. As entire production chains are disrupted and unemployment rises, the most vulnerable include daily labourers, small businesses and informal workers, who are very often women and young people. The Facility\u00a0is part of the UN\u2019s broader socio-economic response framework\u00a0and it will focus on ensuring rural producers have access to inputs, markets, financial services and digital information to mitigate the pandemic\u2019s impact on food production and rural employment. IFAD has already committed US$40 million in seed money and\u00a0aims to raise at least an additional $200 million from governments, foundations and the private sector. About 80 percent of the world\u2019s poorest and most food-insecure people live in rural areas. Around\u00a0135 million people were recently categorised as facing acute food insecurity and malnutrition. It is estimated that this number could nearly double before the end of the year due to the impacts of COVID-19. Canada is a founding member of IFAD and has committed more than US$463 million to the Fund, with a particular focus on women\u2019s rights and climate adaptation to better support sustainable agricultural production and access to markets. In 2012, Canada was the first donor to IFAD\u2019s Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) to channel climate finance to rural small-scale farmers. Canada recently partnered with IFAD in Mali to promote access to financial services in rural communities, particularly for women and young people.