Photo: More than 35,000 rural households in Kenya will soon be eating better and earning more money thanks to a new financial agreement signed by the IFAD and Kenya in support of the country’s aquaculture sector. Credit: IFAD - Photo: 2018

Stories Behind IFAD’s Focus on Africa

By Kwame Buist

ROME (IDN) – In its recently released Annual Report 2017, the Rome-based International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) – a specialised agency of the United Nations dedicated to eradicating poverty and hunger in rural areas of developing countries – promises to leverage core resources of 1.2 billion dollars to fund a programme of loans and grants totalling 3.5 billion dollars over the 2019-2021 period.

Ninety percent of these core resources will be allocated to low-income and lower-middle-income countries, with about 45 percent being channelled to sub-Saharan Africa, and 50 percent to Africa as a whole.

Many African countries are already benefiting from IFAD support against the backdrop of a development landscape that is changing in the face of huge challenges including rising numbers of hungry people, the intensifying effects of climate change, mass migration and growing economic inequality – all threatening the lives and livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable women and men.

In Kenya, IFAD is partnering with the European Union and the Kenyan government to build farmers’ agribusinesses.

It is working with farmers in Kenya to help them to cope with the protracted drought while increasing their production and building resilience to climate change. The drought is affecting countries across the Horn of Africa and entered its third year in 2017. Kenya declared it a national disaster in February.

Aiming to increase farmers’ incomes and strengthen national food security, the Climate Resilient Agricultural Livelihoods Window of the Kenya Cereal Enhancement Programme (KCEP) is boosting the production of staple cereals like maize, sorghum and millet, and pulses. The intervention is an IFAD partnership with the European Union, the Government of Kenya and participating financial institutions.

KCEP uses an e-voucher scheme. This provides participating farmers with prepaid debit cards – paid in part by the programme for the first three years – to access a tailored package of agricultural inputs from designated agro-dealers. The package includes seeds, fertilisers and post-harvest equipment such as storage bags.

The programme is now reaching over 58,000 producers – with a particular focus on women and young people – offering training in agricultural technologies, post-harvest management and financial literacy.

Young farmer Joan Kirui saw her maize yields almost double after she joined the programme, attending training and financial literacy classes.

Using the e-voucher card issued by the bank, she bought improved seeds and fertiliser. She also learned how to space the plants and to weed her fields more often.

“I have done a lot with the income earned,” said Kirui, “and I am now debt-free.”

Further north in Sudan, woman are leading change in rural communities through a 10-year IFAD-supported programme – the Western Sudan Resources Management Programme – which has helped bring about a sharp decline in poverty rates.

Through the programme, which focused on natural resource management, water supplies, microcredit and women’s empowerment, the proportion of extremely poor people in the area fell from 17 percent in 2006 to 1.3 percent in 2016, and the proportion of poor fell from 68.4 percent to 27.5 percent.

Participatory natural resource management was used to bring different social groups together around common problems. About 4,470 kilometres of routes for the movement of livestock were demarcated and veterinary services provided, addressing challenges experienced by herders and farmers alike.

In an area where over half the population previously had no access to safe drinking water, investments in improved water supplies have had a lasting impact. Drinking water has been supplied to nearly 9,000 households, significantly reducing water collection times for women and children and improving health.

Women are now playing a leading role in community development. Abla Mohamed Safaien was already supervising seven women’s savings groups when she was selected as president of the village development committee in Edebaibat, West Kordofan. She received training to develop her leadership skills and went on to encourage other women to follow in her footsteps:

“I feel very confident about talking to people to assist my community and help support poor people,” Safaien said.

Nearly 2,000 savings and credit groups were set up, serving 30,000 households. A specialised microfinance programme in partnership with the Agricultural Bank of Sudan reached over 18,500 households with a portfolio of 2.5 million dollars.

Meanwhile, in the West African country of Guinea IFAD support is helping young farmers build successful farming operations that create jobs for hundreds of rural people. The National Programme to Support Agricultural Value Chain Actors started work in 2011 and has reached over 198,000 people.

Traditionally, young people provide the labour on family farms, but they themselves lack access to land, water, tools and credit and so cannot set up their own agricultural activities.

Twenty young farmers were selected and received technical advice on how to use compost, fertilisers and phytosanitary products, and how to maintain irrigation infrastructure, store crops and manage a business. They were also given access to credit to buy inputs and tools. The result was a marked increase in planted area and yields, household food security improved and hundreds of jobs were created.

Mamadou Bah was one of the young farmers. He used to cultivate potatoes on one hectare of land. Now, during the dry season he grows potatoes on 50 hectares of land that are partly rented, borrowed or his own. In the rainy season he grows maize, beans and rice.

As a result of his work, Bah says that his family now has enough to eat all year round and he has also increased his income significantly. In addition, he employs eight permanent workers and dozens of daily workers.

“My ambition is to cultivate 200 hectares in the years to come, but my main obstacle is the lack of land and access to finances for mechanisation,” said Bah.

“I have become an example and source of inspiration for many other young people who now understand that it is possible to make a decent living from agriculture and build up a good life in rural areas,” he added. [IDN-InDepthNews – 21 July 2018]

Photo: More than 35,000 rural households in Kenya will soon be eating better and earning more money thanks to a new financial agreement signed by the IFAD and Kenya in support of the country’s aquaculture sector. Credit: IFAD

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate. –

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