BEIJING, December 2, 2008 – Farmers in Anhui, Hunan, Guangxi and Hubei provinces and Chongqing municipality will benefit from improved rural environment and living conditions through a new $120 million Eco-Farming Project approved yesterday by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors.
The Government of China sees biogas utilization as a means of improving the lives of rural households and addressing global and local environmental issues launching a large National Rural Biogas Program in 2001 with total investments to date of more than RMB 3 billion (about US $375 million equivalent). As a result, a total of 7.2 million rural households in China are now cooking with biogas. The new World Bank-funded eco-farming project will complement government’s efforts and support further expansion of the rural biogas program.
The project will assist farmer households to integrate biogas into their agricultural production systems to improve the environmental impact, quality, and efficiency of farm production, and improve the household’s living conditions. The loan will used to build biogas digesters, improved kitchens, animal sheds, and toilet facilities in the households. The project will also provide assistance to strengthen and expand the existing rural energy and agricultural extension services for sustainable operation and maintenance of the systems including development of local extension and training facilities, provision of equipment and materials for the service systems, training for county, township, and farmer technicians and farmers, and support to farmer biogas organizations.
“This is an important project to improve the households’ living conditions. The use of biogas will reduce burning of coal and firewood and promote environmentally friendly and economically efficient farm production in the project areas,” said Sari Söderström, World Bank’s China Sector Coordinator for Rural Development and Task Manager for this project. “It will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce indoor air pollution, and improve the households’ sanitary conditions.”
The World Bank loan will cover 50% of the project costs, with the other 50% financed through counterpart funding.