IFAD grant of US$17.28 million to boost national food security in Eritrea

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Rome, 14 December 2012 – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will provide a US$17.28 million grant to the State of Eritrea to help improve livelihoods of smallholder farmers with a particular focus on women in the country.

The financing agreement for the National Agriculture Project was signed today by Yohannes Tensue, Alternate Permanent Representative of the State of Eritrea to IFAD, and Kevin Cleaver, Associate Vice President, IFAD.

The agricultural sector in Eritrea employs nearly 60 per cent of the active population and contributes 24 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product. Since domestic food production does not meet national demand, Eritrea must import about half of its food requirement. In addition, agricultural productivity is generally extremely low and few farmers can afford to buy fertilizers to improve their production.

The new IFAD supported project will contribute to improve household food security and alleviate poverty in rural areas of 34 districts of the country’s 6 provinces and in 3 agroecological zones. It also aims to increase smallholder agricultural production and productivity and reduce the country’s dependence on food imports through the intensification of irrigated and rainfed crop production, and the provision of fertilizer and improved seeds to the smallholder farmers.

In addition, the project will promote investment in small livestock for the very poor people in rural areas with limited access to land and also develop a system to control the spread of pest and diseases and raise livestock productivity.

Cofinanced by the government of Eritrea, the project will be implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with the private sector. About 81,000 poor rural households, including 16,258 women headed households will directly benefit from the project. Households headed by women will be given priority in land allocation in new irrigated areas.

Since 1995, with this new project, IFAD will have financed six programmes and projects in Eritrea for a total investment of approximately $73.1 million benefitting 293,942 households.