IFAD provides US$40.1 million to help Indian farmers in Maharashtra overcome agrarian distress

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IFAD provides US$40.1 million to help Indian farmers in Maharashtra overcome agrarian distress

Rome, 30 September, 2009 – More than a million and a half poor rural people in the east of India's State of Maharashtra are set to benefit from a new US$40.1 million loan and US$1.0 million grant from IFAD to the Republic of India.
The loan and grant agreement for the Convergence of Agricultural Interventions in Maharashtra's Distressed Districts Programme was signed today in Rome by Mr Shri Arif Shahid Khan,  Ambassador of the Republic of India, and Kanayo Nwanze, President of IFAD.

Agrarian distress in the project area is due to a complex combination of factors including inefficient water use, depleting soil fertility, dependence on rainfall, mono-cropping, indiscriminate use of fertilizer and hybrid seeds and adverse market conditions. High input costs and uncertain returns have made agriculture a risky and largely unprofitable source of livelihood.

IFAD will be intervening on the request of the state and national government in a region plagued by farmers' suicides, a tragic human aspect of agricultural distress.  Maharashtra accounts for over a fifth of all such deaths in India, according to statistics from the National Crime Records Bureau. Many of the suicides are farmers who faced with decreasing yields have been unable to pay back farm loans offered at exorbitant rates by money lenders.

Immediate benefits from the IFAD-funded programme will be increased productivity through the introduction of in situ water conservation and organic farming practices and low external input sustainable agriculture.

Diversification into fruit, vegetable and livestock products will have a positive impact on nutrition. Increased carbon content will enhance soil fertility and increase moisture retention, allowing for higher cropping intensity.

To date, IFAD has funded 23 projects in India for a total investment of about US$ 534 million.

Press release No.: IFAD/43/09

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 over US$11 billion in grants and low-interest loans to developing countries, empowering some 340 million people to break out of poverty. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized UN agency based in Rome – the UN's food and agricultural hub. It is a unique partnership of 165 members from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), other developing countries and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).