IFAD provides US$17.92 million to Benin for the Rural Economic Growth Support Project
Rome, 21 July 2009 - A US$8.96 million loan and US$8.96 million grant from IFAD to the Republic of Benin for the Rural Economic Growth Support Project is set to change the lives and livelihoods of 70,000 poor rural people in Benin. The project will support local initiatives aimed at improving rural people's incomes and living conditions.
The loan and grant agreement for the project was signed today in Rome by Grégoire Akofodji, Minister of Agriculture, Husbandry and Fishering of the Republic of Benin, and Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD.
Agriculture is crucial to the economy of Benin, ensuring a livelihood for more than 60 per cent of the population and generating close to 33 per cent of gross domestic product. Although farmers can produce many crops, only cotton-growers are supported by an integrated value chain. But they and the country remain highly vulnerable to the volatile world market. The project will help Benin's small-scale rural producers develop well-integrated value chains for four non-cotton crops with broader markets: roots and tubers, lowland rice, vegetables and pineapple.
The project will reach the most vulnerable categories of women, young people and men who belong to village-level groups that are undertaking rural income-generating activities. It will also reach their inter-professional unions, set up to forge strong value chains, and rural micro and small-scale enterprises.
The estimated 70,000 people who will benefit from the Rural Economic Growth Support Project will undertake the growing, processing and trading of cassava, rice, vegetables and pineapple, for a considerable increase in their incomes.
To date, IFAD has funded ten projects in Benin for a total investment of about US$ 117.2 million.
Note to editors:
In late 2007, after the price of imported rice nearly quadrupled, the Government of Benin declared a food emergency, calling on IFAD and other development partners to help farmers increase rice and cassava production as an immediate priority.
NERICA (New Rice for Africa), a cross between drought-tolerant African and high-yielding Asian rice variety that matures quickly, was introduced in Benin. NERICA, which is resistant to pests and requires less water, has been called miracle rice because farmers can cultivate two or three crops a year with much higher yields. Africa Rice Center (WARDA) developed this rice variety in the mid-1990s.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) works with poor rural people to enable them to grow and sell more food, increase their incomes, and determine the direction of their own lives. Since 1978, IFAD has invested over US$11 billion in grants and low-interest loans to developing countries, empowering some 340 million people to break out of poverty. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized UN agency based in Rome - the UN's food and agricultural hub. It is a unique partnership of 165 members from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), other developing countries and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
David F. Paqui
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