UN gives US$15,5m to assist DRC farmers

Under an agreement signed today at the Rome-based Fund, IFAD will provide a US$15.5 million loan and a US$300,000 grant to support the US$26 million Agricultural Rehabilitation Programme, which will also benefit from outside sources and government funding. Years of civil conflict and economic mismanagement have taken their toll on the DRC, which is one of the poorest countries in the world. Transportation, communication and basic infrastructure have been destroyed or badly deteriorated. Continuous conflicts have also had a negative impact on the development of the country’s agricultural sector, which many depend on for survival. Despite vast natural resources, less than 2 per cent of the arable land is cultivated and the country imports a substantial amount of food to meet national demand. Low agricultural productivity and lack of access to markets and financial services have exacerbated poverty in rural areas, IFAD said. The new programme will assist in the rehabilitation of the agricultural and fishery sectors by making financial services and new technology more accessible to poor farmers and fishers. Farmers will be provided with seeds, pesticides, fertilizers and small tools so they can plant new crops and restore agricultural production. Roads will be built and transportation systems improved. “IFAD wants to improve food security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s poor rural communities so that the country can move away from emergency assistance and concentrate on long-term development programmes,” said Leopold Sarr, IFAD’s Country Programme Manager for the DRC, He added that the initiative “will help farmers and fishers to improve their livelihoods and increase their incomes.” ‘

April 2006
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