The second replenishment of the International Fund for Agricultural Development has now been agreed upon, although at a level half the original proposal. Better that than nothing.
The agreement assures almost $500 million for the poorest of the Third World's farmers, an encouraging action at a moment when assistance to the world's impoverished people is being devastated by curtailments of spending in the affluent nations, particularly the United States.
Even with the cuts required by Gramm-Rudman-Hollings, the United States has budgeted enough money to cover its share, about $27 million, of the first year of the IFAD replenishment. The exact amount will depend on how much the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and in particular, its Persian Gulf members, can come up to fulfill their 40%share of the total. As matters now stand, the replenishment is $40 million short of the $500 million agreed upon, largely because oil price declines have pinched the oil producers' treasuries.
The price of neglecting the Third World has been dramatized by the famine that still threatens millions in Africa. Those very visible victims of the perversities of weather and politics are but part of a larger problem that includes much of Asia and Latin America as well. IFAD stands among the most effective programs for doing something to alleviate the misery of those millions. The replenishment is encouraging at a time of so many setbacks for the poor of the world.