WASHINGTON, March 30, 2010 ― The World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved today an International Development Association (IDA) grant of US$120 million to increase agricultural productivity and improve marketing of crops and animal products by smallholder farmers in targeted areas of northern Equateur province and the Pool Malebo area located in the vicinity of Kinshasa.
The Equateur Province was identified as one of five areas with high agricultural potential, high population density, and high market access; a finding reinforced by the spatial analysis of potential investments in infrastructure. “It is a province with a great agricultural potential for domestic food crops as well as exports, such as rubber and cocoa, all of which fall in line with the country’s need for equitable and balanced investments required to foster the postwar recovery,” said Nicolas Ahouissoussi, the project’s Team Leader.
The project will promote growth in rural agricultural incomes, support institutional capacity building, improve access to basic services for enhancing food security, and provide decentralized support to agriculture and community development. It will also help indirectly to relieve pressure on forest resources in areas contiguous to project sites.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is the size of Western Europe with an estimated population of 60 million. The poor performance of agriculture has increased the vulnerability of the population to recent increases in food prices and heightened the pressure on forest resources. “Improvements in agricultural productivity and better links between producing and consuming areas would improve trade balances, reduce poverty and related malnutrition, and protect critical forest resources,” said Marie Françoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank Country Director for DRC and the Republic of Congo.
The project includes three components. The first focuses on the farm level to raise productivity and give community groups access to basic technology for small-scale processing and storage. The second addresses marketing infrastructure. The third enhances the capacity of the ministries of agriculture and rural development to implement the project, provide needed services, and prepare the way for revitalizing core sector functions and agro-industry.
The first component (“Improving Agricultural and Animal Production”) will support activities to enhance the capacity of about 105,000 farm households (or about 735,000 people) to produce rainfed crops (Equateur), irrigated rice (Pool Malebo), small ruminants, and poultry. Activities include the provision of improved seed, seedlings, and animal breeds; the provision of advice to improve production management; the rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructure to improve water management; and the capacity for basic product transformation.
This component will also support activities to develop the capacity of farmer organizations in the project areas, with a view to promoting their effectiveness in marketing agricultural inputs (primarily seed) and outputs and in building linkages with private agri-business. The entry point of this component will be farmer organizations, including women’s groups. Periodic assessments of project outcomes and intermediate results will be carried out at least twice during the project, including focusing on gender-disaggregated beneficiary information.
The second component (“Marketing Infrastructure Component”) will include the rehabilitation of feeder roads and rehabilitation or construction of a few local markets in Equateur Province. The sustainability of this infrastructure will be ensured by requiring evidence that adequate rural infrastructure maintenance and repair facilities are available at the district level, with adequate funding (from district and national funds) to undertake maintenance as needed, either in house (en régie) or by contract with local entrepreneurs. The renovated markets will be locally owned and have an organizational and fee structure that will assure their upkeep. “Results of this infrastructure component will certainly enhance more agriculture production and give better incentives to small farmers to adopt new technologies,” according to Nicolas Ahouissoussi.
The third component (“Capacity-building”) will support the ministries of agriculture rural development, and project management. It will also enable monitoring and evaluation of project activities.
At the end of the implementation period, the project is expected to have a positive impact on the living conditions of the target population, as it will contribute, through agricultural productivity improvement and better access to markets, to increased household revenues. Overall, the project will make a significant contribution to poverty reduction and gender mainstreaming in accordance with mission of the World Bank.