WASHINGTON DC, December 15, 2020 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a $100 million project to develop sustainable production systems that allow tribal households in remote areas of Chhattisgarh to practice round-the-year production of diversified and nutritious food.
The Chhattisgarh Inclusive Rural and Accelerated Agriculture Growth Project (CHIRAAG) will be implemented in the southern tribal-majority region of the state where a large population is undernourished and poor. The project will benefit over 180,000 households from about 1,000 villages in eight districts of Chhattisgarh.
To make agriculture nutrition supportive, the project will implement a series of activities that are climate resilient and profitable. Investments will be made in water-harvesting structures and irrigation facilities; integrated farming systems blending crops, fishery and livestock production; climate-smart production technologies and practices; developing value chains to ensure that surplus commodities reach profitable markets; and in making nutritious food available to tribal households.
Rice is a major crop in Chhattisgarh and constitutes 66 percent of cropped area. However, the ‘rice bowl’ is restricted to the central plains where over half of the state’s irrigated area is concentrated. Chhattisgarh’s rich biodiversity and diverse agro-climatic zones provide an opportunity to focus on an alternative model of development allowing the tribal-dominated southern region to leverage its natural resources, diversify and grow resilient crops; and assure a production system that takes care of the nutritional needs of every household.
The foundation for a more diverse and nutritive food and agriculture system will be built through village-level efforts to reduce post-harvest losses, improve access to profitable markets and mobilize smallholders into farmer producer organizations.
“This project is part of the state government’s on-going efforts to build an inclusive development pathway for tribal communities, with special emphasis on the empowerment of tribal women,” said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India. “By focusing on diversifying cropping systems, enhancing nutrition, and encouraging investments in irrigation and post-harvest technology, the operation will support tribal communities – including those in remote areas – through agricultural growth and increases in farmer incomes.”
The COVID-19 pandemic and associated response has disrupted access to economic opportunities, especially in rural and tribal areas. The project will help stabilize and restore the local food supply and production, secure livelihoods and expand income and job opportunities for people returning to their villages in pandemic-affected project areas.
“The project will help build innovative private sector partnerships to connect tribal producers to profitable markets, drawing on extensive learning from investments in similar projects in South Asia, Latin America and East Asia,” said Raj Ganguly, Senior Agribusiness Specialist and World Bank Task Team Leader for the project.
The $100 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a maturity of 17.5 years, including a grace period of 5.5-years.