Rome — The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will provide a US$68.4 million grant to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to improve the productivity and incomes of smallholder farmers in the western part of the country.
The grant agreement for the Kinshasa Food Supply Centre Support Programme was signed today by Roger Shulungu Runika, Vice Minister of Finance of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD.
Although the country exported agricultural products prior to its independence in 1960, the sector has seen a steady decline and stagnation since. Currently, the growth in the agriculture sector is 2 per cent per year, far slower than the increase of the country's population. Seventy per cent of the active population are employed in the agriculture sector, which contributes to nearly 40 per cent of the gross domestic product.
"This country is vast and fertile, and has tremendous potential for agricultural growth to pull its population out of extreme poverty," said Rasha Omar, IFAD's Country Programme Manager for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. "However, its agriculture sector has continued suffering from under investment. Without security, stability and government commitment to the sector, rural development and food security cannot become a reality in the country."
The programme is cofinanced by the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with a contribution from the African Institute for Economic and Social Development (INADES). It will be implemented in the peri-urban area of Kinshasa and in the territories of Bulungu, Idiofa and Gungu.
The programme aims to improve the production of vegetable gardens and staple food crops, as well as their supply to the main urban markets. More than 15,000 vegetable-producer households in Kinshasa and Bas-Congo, and additional 100,000 households engaged in food production and processing in Kwilu district will benefit from the programme.
The programme will train women and young people to build their capacity in production, processing and marketing. In addition, the rehabilitation and maintenance of more than 3,000 kilometres of roads will improve access to markets. The programme will also ensure rehabilitation and maintenance of hydro-agricultural infrastructure on 1,500 hectares of vegetable farms.
With this new programme, IFAD will have financed six programmes and projects in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for a total investment of $151.39 million benefitting 591,000 rural households.
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 about US$14.3 billion in grants and low-interest loans to developing countries through projects empowering over 400 million people to break out of poverty, thereby helping to create vibrant rural communities.
IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized UN agency based in Rome - the United Nations' food and agriculture hub. It is a unique partnership of 168 members from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), other developing countries and the Organisation for Economic Coâ€'operation and Development (OECD).