The International Fund for Agricultural Development of the United Nations (IFAD) has announced support for a new project to increase incomes, improve food and nutrition security.
The support is to build the resilience of at least 34,800 rural farmers in Sao Tome and Principe, an island country highly affected by climate change.
A statement issued to Business24 by David Florentin Paqui, IFAD Communications Division, said rising sea levels and climate disturbances put the poor rural people of the country at risk, impacting its agriculture and fisheries.
It said micronutrient deficiency rates in Sao Tome and Principe were also alarming, with 96 per cent of preschool children and 18 per cent of girls and pregnant women suffering from vitamin A deficiencies. The malnutrition rate for children under five is more than 17 per cent.
The statement said to address these issues, the financing agreement for the Commercialization, Agricultural Production Nutrition Project (COMPRAN) was signed by Donal Brown, Associate Vice-President of IFAD, Programme Management Department and Osvaldo Tavares dos Santos Vaz, Minister of Finance of the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe.
With 69 per cent of the young people in Sao Tome and Principe unemployed, this €19.2 million programme will target young people, aiming for at least 50 per cent.
It said it would contribute to livelihood development, improved nutrition and resilience, all of which are critical areas for the country to achieve food security, as well as meeting several Sustainable Development Goals, including no poverty, zero hunger, gender equality and climate action (SDGs 1, 2, 5 and 13).
Funding includes an €0.9 million loan and €3.8 million grant from IFAD.
In addition, the Government of Sao Tome and Principe is providing €0.4 million, with a further €0.5 million contributed by beneficiaries themselves and significant co-financing from other development partners.
“COMPRAN is an innovative project that will also strengthen capacities of key rural public and private institutions in the country to catalyse and well manage investments and strengthen public-private and producer partnerships, at both central and decentralized levels.
This will ensure the continuity and the sustainability of the gains of the former Smallholder Commercial Agriculture Project that registered huge achievements and impact on the livelihoods of rural populations through increased incomes,” said Emime Ndihokubwayo, Country Director for Sao Tome and Principe.
The project will promote the economic inclusion of small-scale producers in value chains commodities such as crop, livestock and fishing. Innovative climate change mitigation and adaption measures will be introduced, particularly in irrigation and agroforestry.
It will also invest in post-harvest infrastructure and technologies to minimise food loss.
The statement said COMPRAN would build the capacity of small-scale farmers in production and processing so that they become more competitive.
“It will also increase their access to markets by linking them to different actors in the target value chains,” it said.
It said appropriate rural infrastructure would be put in place to support market-oriented production, and to enable efficient delivery of surplus production from small farms to markets, allowing farm families to sell more and improve their livelihoods.
The project will be implemented nationwide and will fund 35 business plans of cooperatives, promote 1,500 micro projects for food and nutritional security and income-generating activities, and support 700 youth micro enterprises initiatives.
Other important activities include preparing or updating the land registry to identify abandoned lands so that they can be distributed to women, young people, or persons with disabilities who can be included in productive agricultural activities.
Since 1985, IFAD has invested more than US$31.7 million in seven rural development programmes and projects in Sao Tome and Principe worth a total of almost $70 million. These interventions have directly benefited 36,520 rural families.