IFAD approves USD 65.1 million in loans and USD 9.2 million in grants to combat poverty in rural areas

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IFAD approves USD 65.1 million in loans and USD 9.2 million in grants to combat poverty in rural areas

Press release number: IFAD 28/04

Rome, 9 September 2004 - The Executive Board of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) approved USD 65.1 million in loans and USD 9.2 million in grants today to improve the living conditions of rural poor people in four low-income countries and promote agricultural research, training and technical assistance.

Lennart Båge, President of IFAD, in his closing statement to the Board, emphasized the position of the Fund with regard to the desert locust emergency in North Africa and in the Sahel region, which is directly affecting IFADs target group - smallholder farmers and herders.

''We are coordinating with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and bilateral donors to help the affected countries respond to this crisis in a number of ways,''said Båge. ''But our overriding strategy will always be to help threatened countries find sustainable, safe, environmentally-friendly, and long-lasting solutions to the locust threat.''

The Eighty-Second Session of the Board, which met at IFAD's headquarters in Rome , approved four new loans that will help rural people better manage natural resources, tend livestock and conserve forests in Azerbaijan1 , Burundi2 , Sri Lanka3 and Yemen4 .

The Board also approved five technical assistance grants to sponsor a range of agricultural activities, including research and training. One of these grants will finance a programme to support farmers' groups in Argentina , Brazil , Paraguay and Uruguay to cultivate and process medicinal plants. Another grant will be used throughout Central America to strengthen government initiatives aimed at reducing rural poverty. The International Land Coalition, a global alliance of governmental and civil society organizations that works with rural poor people to secure their access to land, also received a grant to support its activities over the next two years.

1/ In the Republic of Burundi , a USD 16.3 million IFAD loan will help restore the country's agriculture, infrastructure and community life after ten years of violent conflict. The Transitional Programme of Post-Conflict Reconstruction - totaling USD 32.7 million - will benefit about 370,000 people living in the provinces of Bujumbura Rural, Bururi and Ruyigi.

2/ An IFAD loan of USD 12.5 million will be used to help improve irrigation systems and modernize agriculture techniques in 48 villages in north-eastern Azerbaijan . About 66,000 rural farmers will benefit from the North-East Development Project, which has a total cost of USD 25.1 million.

3/ Eighty thousand poor rural households in four dry-zone districts of Sri Lanka will benefit from a seven-year programme designed to improve irrigated crop production and rainfed upland farming, and add value to produce through better marketing. IFAD will provide a USD 22 million loan and a USD 339,000 grant towards the total project cost of USD 30.4 million.

4/ IFAD will support an eight-year project in the Al-Dhala region of Yemen with a USD 14.3 million loan. The Community Resource Management project - totalling USD 22.7 million - aims to improve living conditions and raise income levels among 30,000 families, mainly livestock herders, dryland farmers, landless people and female-headed households.

IFAD is a specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to combating rural poverty in the most disadvantaged regions of the world. Since 1978, IFAD has invested USD 8.2 billion in 660 rural development projects and programmes, about 250 million rural people have been supported in their efforts to overcome poverty.