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Supporting small-scale farmers around the world

2021: the year in review

2021 brought immense challenges to all corners of the world. Nevertheless, IFAD has been busy doing what we always do: supporting projects that improve the lives of rural small-scale farmers. As the year comes to a close, let’s zoom in on some of those projects – from Asia to Africa and on to Latin America – and meet some of the people we’ve helped along the way.



36-year-old Rowshan Ara had never worked outside the home. With her husband’s work their only source of income, they had limited resources to provide for themselves and their family.

Today, Rowshan is a successful micro-entrepreneur, running a thriving livestock business from their home. It all started when the IFAD-financed PACE project came to Sadar Upazila, their corner of Bangladesh’s Tangail district. Rowshan received a micro-loan, along with trainings in how to sustainably raise livestock, access the local markets, and use technology to get her business off the ground.

Now economically self-sufficient, Rowshan is able to support her family and pay for her children’s education. She has plans to keep growing her business, too: she wants to someday own a large dairy farm.


©IFAD/Enrique Espejo Jr.

Inday Ruperta Gagarin, a mother of six, tells us that before she joined the FishCORAL programme, her husband was the sole provider for the family. She knew how to dry fish – an important activity in coastal towns like hers – but her experience was limited to what her family had taught her as a child.

Today, she owns a small general-goods store and has a steady stream of customers. Among her stock are the dried and processed fish produced by her fellow programme participants.

“Now, I can buy food, clothes and school supplies for my children,” she says. “Before, it was stressful.”

She was able to open her store thanks to the training in marketing she received from FishCORAL, an initiative aimed at reducing poverty, improving food and nutrition security, and increasing household incomes.

te d’Ivoire

©IFAD/David Paqui

In the village of Nahoualakaha, located in the northern part of Côte d’Ivoire, rice productivity was really low. The fields were vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and frequent intrusion by insects left much of their crops destroyed. The rice farmers of the Wowela cooperative (a name that means “we help each other”) only had enough crop for their own subsistence, leaving little to nothing left over to sell.

Now, thanks to the PADFA programme, production is rising. PADFA provided these farmers with drought-resistant rice seed, inputs and training, resulting in a noticeable increase in the amount of grain harvested.

“I used to harvest 19 bags, now I can harvest nearly 30,” says Brahima Silué, a 38-year-old father of four. “My household consumes part of the rice I produce and I sell the surplus. With the income, I can afford to cover all my family’s needs, which was not the case before.”


©IFAD/Ibrahima Kebe Diallo

For centuries, the communities in Senegal’s Delta of Saloum had used subsistence farming to get by. Nevertheless, the surrounding mangrove forests held the region’s true untapped potential. Mangroves not only attract a wealth of marine life; they are an ideal habitat for honeybees.

The IFAD-supported PARFA initiative trained local farmers’ organizations in beekeeping and provided all the necessary equipment. As the region’s farmers soon discovered, mangrove honey is highly prized by many on the global market.

Bana Diouf, president of a local women’s group founded by the project, was attracted to beekeeping for the opportunities it brings.

Mangrove honey can provide a good source of income, therefore allowing beekeeping households to have some additional funds. Bana’s family, like many others, invests some of them back into restoring and caring for the mangrove forest.


©IFAD/Mohamed Ezz Aldin

In Egypt, many of the lands that have newly become available for agriculture don’t have the infrastructure, services and institutions that help rural communities prosper. Moreover, climate change is straining the availability of water.

Through the IFAD-supported SAIL project, small-scale farmers who have settled on these new lands access infrastructure and services, and learn climate-resilient farming techniques.

In the village of Ebrahim El-desouky, located in the Kafr El Sheikh Governorate in the Nile Delta, Nayerah Abdo Elsaid and Eslam Sobhey have learned how to use aquaponics, a system in which nutrient-rich water from fish tanks is used to grow plants without soil, and then circulated back to the fish tanks.

Nayerah and Eslam now use this system to cultivate vegetables in their flourishing kitchen garden. Using little water and no pesticides or fertilizers, their family has access to diverse, nutritious food all year round.

El Salvador

©IFAD/Luis Galdámez/Factstory

In the Central American Dry Corridor, which runs through eastern El Salvador, droughts are becoming ever more frequent and intense as a results of climate change. For small-scale farmers, this means crop losses, food insecurity and loss of livelihoods.

Iris Maribel Alberto Laínez is the mother of nine-year-old twins and is expecting her third child. She is also the secretary of the Cooperative Association for Agricultural Marketing and Production “El Limón”.

In the hydroponic greenhouses established by the women of the cooperative with support from the Rural Adelante project, Iris Maribel tends to a rich crop of jalapeño peppers and Loreto tomatoes. Even when there is drought in the Dry Corridor, she and her fellow cooperative members are able to keep producing high-quality foods for sale in local markets.


©IFAD/Santiago Billy/Factstory

When Juana Morales first opened her fabric workshop, she was working with outdated technology. But thanks to the AGRIdigitalización initiative, part of IFAD’s Rural Poor Stimulus Facility, she’s now connected to the big cities and she’s been able to expand her business. And as the leader of her local credit union group, she’s been able to help others move into the digital space, too: her group received a tablet, which they now use to do all their accounting online.

At first, Juana had only one loom available in her studio. But thanks to the loan she received through the initiative, she was able to expand her workshop and add two more. Today, the fabrics she weaves are sold wholesale to a buyer in Santa Cruz.


©IFAD/Délmer Membreño/Factstory

“Today, you see that things are faster. It is no longer like before,” says 40-year-old Ana Maribel Arriaga, a member of the Buscando Prosperidad rural savings bank. With the support of the Rural Poor Stimulus Facility, her bank has undertaken a digitalization campaign, making their services more efficient and transparent. Today, Ana Maribel is signing off on a transaction through an application launched for their campaign – an improvement over their old system.