January 24, 2008

UN-scheme to help the rural poor

Small-scale crop, livestock and fish producers, and processors in Malawi will gain knowledge on benefiting from increased market competition under a new programme supported by the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The nearly $20 million Rural Livelihoods and Economic Enhancement Programme will receive an $8.4 million loan and an $8.3 million grant for a three-year pilot period and then will be expanded to handle up to six commodities, the agency said in a news release.
Initially, the Programme will focus on groundnuts and Irish potatoes. To ease the transition from subsistence to small-scale commercial farming, participants will improve the yields and quality of their produce, learn better processing and marketing methods, and improve access to financial and technical support. "Involving the private sector to drive agricultural commercialization is a new approach in Malawi," said Miriam Okongo, IFAD's country programme manager for the country, which is undergoing a period of economic liberalization. "However, the rural population is not yet prepared for the realities of a market-led world," she added. "The aim of this programme is to help make them make production decisions based on market needs rather than taking the traditional production-oriented approach." (UN News Service, New York)

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