IFAD to support Cameroon's small farmers

IFAD to support Cameroon's small farmers

The United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development will invest US$59.9 million to boost small-scale rice and onion production in Cameroon, improving the livelihoods of 32,000 poor rural households, IFAD said in a statement.

The new investment will extend IFAD's successful Commodity Value Chain Development Support Project (PADFA) for another six years, helping Cameroon meet is food needs and achieve better living conditions for rural dwellers, according to the statement.

“This new financing agreement comes at the right time, as we face the cascading negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Abdelhaq Hanafi, Country Director for Cameroon.

“Small-scale producers are at the centre of IFAD’s work and investing in them is a prerequisite for ensuring food security,” Hanafi underlined.

The project's chief goal is to improve food security and nutrition in Cameroon and mitigate the impact of climate change. It will ensure the availability of quality climate-resilient seeds and other inputs for rice and onion farmers, who struggle with low productivity and income, said the statement.

The project will also aid more efficient land and water management, including the modernization of irrigation infrastructure to reduce producers’ dependence on rain-fed farming and will aim to minimize post-harvest losses by providing adequate storage and processing facilities, the statement said.

Fifty per cent of the project’s participants will be women, who often have limited access to finance and production tools, while at least 30 per cent of participants will be young people, who often face high unemployment. Both groups are especially vulnerable to climate and other shocks, IFAD said.

The project will work with 115 farmers' cooperatives and help smallholders in 15 departments of Cameroon - an increase from the eleven districts reached through PADF. It will develop a rice and onion improved seeds programme and facilitate access to rural finance and to markets where farmers can sell their products.

The project will construct 26 rice warehouses, 28 bioclimatic houses for onion storage, will build five collection and packaging centres for onions, install two rice-parboiling units and rehabilitate 25 km of rural roads to help farmers get their products to market.

Project participants will receive training on nutrition, food preparation and hygiene, while the transportation of products and maintenance of infrastructure can create decent jobs for young people, IFAD said.

IFAD has financed the project with a loan of US$47.0 million. US$10.8 million is being provided through domestic cofinancing, including US$8.7 million from Cameroon's government and US$2.1 million from the project's beneficiaries.

Additional cofinancing of approximately US$2.1 million from other development partners is currently being finalized, the statement noted.

Since 1981, IFAD has invested $201.6 million in 11 rural development programmes and projects in Cameroon worth a total of almost $421.3 million. These projects have directly benefited 610,302 rural households.