IFAD Provides US$23.89 Million to Afghanistan for Rural Microfinance and Livestock

Jul 2009
Rome, Italy, July, 07 2009 - After G8 foreign ministers last month agreed to boost their cooperation in stabilizing Afghanistan, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is providing a vital push to help Afghan's poorest farmers escape poverty, improve their food security and increase their incomes.

A US$23.89 million IFAD grant will support the Rural Microfinance and Livestock Support Programme, IFAD's first major programme in Afghanistan. The programme will focus on a largely under-served segment of the rural population – smallholders and poor herders, the nomadic Kuchis and households headed by women.

The grant agreement was signed today in Rome by Mohammad Musa Maroofi, Ambassador to Italy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and Jessie Mabutas, Assistant President of IFAD.

During three decades of conflict, agricultural development has not been a priority in Afghanistan, and the livestock sector has suffered from neglect. Rural communities today lack access to basic infrastructure, quality inputs and essential services. Farmers' difficulties are compounded by a low ratio of arable land, recurrent droughts and difficult climatic conditions.

The IFAD-funded programme, to be implemented in partnership with the Microfinance Investment Support Facility for Afghanistan (MISFA), will provide microfinance services tailored to small farmers and will facilitate access by those who cannot afford current interest rates or who have limited access to microcredit.

In the livestock sector the programme will help provide technology and inputs. It will pilot models for a successful private-public partnership in delivering livestock extension and veterinary services, as well as access to technical packages that cover health management, processing and marketing.

Households headed by women will benefit from backyard poultry and dairy goat activities, and the programme will help create a network of milk and dairy producers in Nangarhar province.

For these activities, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) will be the overall implementing agency. However activities on the ground will be carried out by other selected partners such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Centre for Agriculture Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA).

As a result of the tenuous security situation in Afghanistan, most project activities will take place in the relatively more secure northern areas of the country. IFAD attended the G8 Foreign Ministers meeting in Trieste on 25-27 June, which had a special focus on boosting regional security in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Source : Relief Web

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