About 34,000 vulnerable rural households in Sierra Leone will benefit from a new US $ 72.6 million project that aims to improve food and nutrition security and raise the incomes of smallholder farmers by modernizing agriculture, increasing production and developing markets.
The Financing Agreement for the Agricultural Value Chain Development Project (AVDP) was signed by Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD and Jacob Jusu Saffa, Minister of Finance of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
Project financing includes a $ 5.9 million loan and $ 5.9 million grant from IFAD. The project will be co-financed by the private sector ($ 1.4 million), the Government of Sierra Leone ($ 8.1 million) and the self-employed ($ 1.4 million). Moreover, additional cofinancing ($ 9.2 million) is being requested from the Adaptation Fund. Over the next few months, an additional $ 40.8 million will be made available under the performance-based allocation system cycle for Sierra Leone, covering the period 2019-2011, thereby reaching the total financing amount of $ 72.6 million.
"IFAD's allocation of $ 40.8 million to Sierra Leone for 2019-2021 has almost doubled compared to the 2016-2018 allocation of $ 21.4 million," said Lisandro Martin, Director of IFAD's West and Central Africa Division. "The strong performance of the country program in recent years is being rewarded by IFAD's Performance-Based Allocation System."
Agriculture is the largest sector of the economy of Sierra Leone. It accounts for 62 per cent of labor force, 59 per cent of GDP and 22 per cent of export revenues. But poverty is particularly important in rural areas where 59 per cent of the population lives. The new project will increase production and improve the marketing of rice, palm oil, cocoa and vegetables, contributing to the Government's priorities of rice self-sufficiency, crop diversification and rural poverty reduction.
AVDP will invest in agricultural mechanization, irrigation and water management. It will strengthen and climate-proof rural infrastructure through the rehabilitation of feeder roads and warehouses to improve product drying and storage capacity. It will also build the capacity of smallholder farmers and farmers. At least 40 per cent of the project's participants will be women and youth.
Since 1980, IFAD has funded nine rural development programs and projects in Sierra Leone at a total cost of $ 321.2 million, with an IFAD investment of $ 165.4 million. These projects and programs have directly benefited 547,500 rural households.