Rome — The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will provide a US$21.46 million loan and grant to the Republic of the Niger to improve the food security of smallholder farmers in the country. The loan is co-financed by the Spanish Food Security Cofinancing Facility Trust Fund.
The loan agreement for the Ruwanmu Small-scale Irrigation Project was signed today by Amadou Boubacar Cissé, Minister of State and Planning, Land Management and Community Development of the Republic of the Niger, and Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD. In Hausa language, ruwanmu means 'our water'.
At least six million people in Niger are suffering from food shortages this year due to last season's failed harvest. Irrigated land makes up around five per cent of the total cultivated land in the country. "Recurrent droughts over the last 40 years have had dramatic consequences on agropastoral production, food security and people's livelihoods in Niger," said Vincenzo Galastro, IFAD Country Programme Manager for the Niger. "A well-performing and sustainable small-scale irrigation system is vital to increase agricultural productivity and food security in the country."
Cofinanced by the Government of Niger, the project will be implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture in the regions of Maradi Tahoua and Zinder. It will cover 30 communes in the farming and agropastoral areas and more than 65,000 poor rural households will benefit from the project, of which nearly 60 per cent are women and young people. One of the aims of the project is to increase the income of rural women and youth through viable microenterprises integrated to the local agricultural economy.
The new project will contribute to a sustainable increase in the productivity of the irrigated areas and strengthen the capacity of smallholder farmers to manage water and land resources. In addition, smallholder farmers will receive training to improve post-production and marketing of the products generated by the irrigation schemes.
With this new project, IFAD will have financed 11 programmes and projects in Niger for a total investment of $168.7 million benefitting 733,200 rural households.