Lennart Båge, President of IFAD: Egypts Achievements in Rural Development are Invaluable but more Efforts and Resources are Indispensible to Alleviate Rural Poverty

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Lennart Båge, President of IFAD: ''Egypt's Achievements in Rural Development are Invaluable but more Efforts and Resources are Indispensible to Alleviate Rural Poverty''

Press release number: IFAD 29/02

The President of IFAD visits Egypt for official talks and tours the sites of two rural development projects in the Western Desert from 28-30 May 2002

Rome-Cairo, Monday 27 May 2002 - Lennart Båge, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is scheduled to arrive in Cairo, Wednesday (29 May 2002) on a 3-day official visit to the Arab Republic of Egypt upon government invitation. During his stay, President Båge is expected to pay a courtesy visit to HE Hosni Mubarak, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt and to hold talks with HE Yussef Wally, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, HE Dr. Fayza Abu El-Naga, Minister of State and senior government officials on current and future investments of the Fund in fighting rural poverty in the country. President Bage will also brief government officials on the outcome of the recent Regional Ministerial Conference on ''Rural Poverty Assessment and Strategic Opportunities in the Near East and North Africa'' held in Beirut, Lebanon from 8-9 May 2002, which adapted a Regional Strategy for poverty reduction to meet the goals of the Millennium Summit.

During his visit President Båge is also expected to join HE Yussef Wally in addressing the high-level meeting of the 35th World Farmers' Congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP) on Thursday (29 May). President Bage's statement will focus on the need for greater international and national efforts to address the issues of ''Rural Poverty, Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security'' in order to meet the Millennium Summit's goal of reducing by half the number of the poor by the year 2015.

Egypt is one of IFAD's important and priority borrowers in the Near East and North Africa with eight loans totalling about US$ 174 million, of which seven are on concessional terms, to support agricultural and rural development projects focusing on rural poverty reduction. With a total cost of US$ 445 million, including government contributions, these projects are benefiting more than 4.8 million of the poorest rural people nation-wide, particularly in West Beheira, Minya, Fayoum, Sohag and in newlands West and East of the Delta.

The President of IFAD is scheduled to leave Cairo Thursday (30 May 2002) on a field visit to some of the sites and beneficiaries of two IFAD-supported projects, the new West Noubaria Rural Development Project and the Newlands Agricultural Services Project, which cover the zone lying on either side of the Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road about 90 km south of Alexandria. The new project just starting is helping a group of 16 789 small-farm families, dispossessed of their statuary tenancies in the ''oldlands'' and recently compensated with 1-ha of holdings of newly reclaimed desert land or ''newlands''. Another group set to benefit from the project comprises 19400 families of small farmers and unemployed youth that were settled before 1996 on 2-ha holdings of land in the reclaimed desert.

The new project is aimed to improve housing and social amenities and will make available to the oldland settlers, who are unaccustomed to desert agriculture, the considerable desert farming technologies developed and adapted through Egypt's agricultural research system in the past 50 years. The project is also supporting the adoption of better on-farm water-management practices while encouraging the development of small and medium enterprise in agricultural production and marketing also through improved marketing training and access to information and with the additional support of improved micro-credit services. It is also facilitating the long-term development of a viable financial system while addressing the immediate need for agricultural production and financing of small income-generating enterprises. During his field tour, the President of IFAD will be able to assess and compare the present living conditions of the beneficiaries of the new project and those of the beneficiaries of the older Newlands Agricultural Services Project which has concretely changed their lives exemplifying sound rural development that can effectively achieve substantial


IFAD is a specialized agency of the United Nations with the specific mandate of combating hunger and poverty in the most disadvantaged regions of the world. Since 1978 IFAD has financed 603 projects in 115 recipient countries and in the West Bank and Gaza for a total commitment of approximately USD 7.3 billion in loans and grants. Through these projects, about 250 million rural people have had a chance to move out of poverty. IFAD makes the greater part of its resources available to low-income countries on very favorable terms, with up to 40 years for repayment and including a grace period of up to ten years and a service charge of 0.75% per year.


Note to Correspondents:

Over 60 million rural people live on less than a dollar a day in the Near East and North Africa. They represent between 60-70% of the total number of the poor in the region. Unless a serious global effort is undertaken to accelerate poverty reduction, the region will continue to face grave socio-economic risks. A Regional Strategy proposed by IFAD to address the problem has recently been adapted by a recent regional ministerial conference held in Beirut, Lebanon.

All correspondents and media reporters are invited to participate in a special Press Conference to shed light on the strategy and its expected results for the region. The Press Conference will be addressed by HE Yousef Wali, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture and HE Lennart Båge, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) at 16:30 Wednesday 29 May 2002, Meridien Hotel, Cairo.