Rome, 19 January 2012 – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will provide a US$22.2 million loan to the Republic of Niger to help poor rural households to improve their food security and income.
The loan agreement for the Maradi Region Food Security and Development Support Project was signed today by Amadou Boubacar Cissé, Minister of State and Planning, Land Management and Community Development of Niger, and Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD.
The Sahel region – including Niger – currently faces a looming food crisis because of higher prices and poor harvests. This new project will focus on increasing production as well as supporting small farmers to set their prices in a manner that remains profitable for them but is still affordable for consumers. In addition, the project aims to enhance living conditions and build resilience of the most vulnerable groups, and to improve rural household nutrition.
In Niger, malnutrition and food crises are chronic issues in rural areas where an increasing population relies on unpredictable rainfed agriculture. These issues are further aggravated by climate change and food price volatility. The country was hit by food crises in 1973, 1984, 2005 and 2010. The new government elected in 2011 placed domestic food and nutritional security among its top three priorities and launched its initiative les Nigériens Nourrissent les Nigériens (Nigeriens feeding Nigeriens).
Cofinanced by the government of Niger and the World Food Programme (WFP), the project will be implemented in 18 communes in the farming and pastoral areas of the Maradi region, the epicentre of food insecurity in the country. Over 65,000 poor rural households will benefit from the project, of which nearly 51 per cent are women and 49 per cent are young people.
With this new project, IFAD will have financed 10 programmes and projects in Niger for a total investment of $165.9 million benefitting 668,200 rural households.
Notes to editors
Nearly 8 million people, more than half the population - faced critical food shortages in 2010. During this period the pastoral crisis also affected livestock. IFAD joined the international community’s efforts to alleviate the effects of the food and pastoral crisis.
A 2007 study by the World Bank states that by 2050 the impact of climate change may decrease farm productivity in Niger by more than 30%, which would make it the worst hit country in Sub-Sahara Africa.
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 about US$13.2 billion in grants and low-interest loans to developing countries through projects empowering about 400 million people to break out of poverty, thereby helping to create vibrant rural communities. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized UN agency based in Rome – the United Nation’s food and agricultural hub. It is a unique partnership of 167 members from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), other developing countries and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
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