By: Ehis Ayere
The United Nations’ International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has recently signed an agreement with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to finance the North Kivu Agriculture Sector Support project (PASA-NK) aimed at improving food security in the country, while increasing the incomes of smallholder farmers.
The agreement was signed in Rome by Henri Yav Mulang, Minister for Finance of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and by Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD.
The total cost of the project is estimated at just under US$53 million. The funding is comprised of a $16.9 million IFAD loan and an additional $16.9 million IFAD grant. The government of DRC will contribute nearly $6 million while beneficiaries will provide an additional $3.5 million. In addition, the Government of DRC is seeking co-financing of $9.7 million from other donors.
Although the primary goal of the new project is to improve food security in the DRC, it will also increase incomes of participating smallholder farmers living in the territories of Beni, Lubero, Rutshuru, Nyiragongo and Masisi in the province of North Kivu.
Smallholder farmers targeted by the project are those who typically cultivate less than one hectare, own less than five head of livestock, own rudimentary transportation and are widowed or women heads of households.
During the IFAD President’s official visit to the country last year, the project approval and implementation were discussed with government officials. “Considering the amount of rainfall and arable land, the country’s agricultural sector has considerable potential to expand and flourish if the right investments and commitments are made,” Nwanze said.
The Project activities will focus on building the capacity of farmers, farmer’s organizations and provincial agricultural services involved in maize, rice, potato and Arabica coffee value chains. It will ensure that the agricultural services farmers receive from producers’ organizations are adequate and meet their needs. Furthermore, the project will improve smallholder farmers’ access to agricultural inputs, such as fertilizers and certified seeds, and their access to markets. It will assist farmers’ organizations in building storage facilities and warehouses to assist farmers in selling their products at a higher price.
Project activities, implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, are expected to benefit some 28,400 rural households in the province.
Since 1980, IFAD has invested a total of $183.4 million in eight programmes and projects in the DRC, generating a total investment of $326.2 million which has benefited 504,400 households.
U.N Agency Boosts Food Security in DR Congo28/01/2016