The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has signed a financing agreement with the Government of Myanmar to reduce poverty, and improve food security and nutrition for over 390,000 rural people in the northern Magway region and southern Chin state.
The agreement was signed by Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD, and, Myint Naung, Myanmar Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN in Rome. The total cost of the Western States Agribusiness Project (WSAP) is US$20.3 million of which IFAD is providing a $9 million loan and a $4 million grant.
While Myanmar produces enough rice to meet its consumption needs as a whole, the rural poor are often food insecure and do not have access to adequate food to meet their caloric and nutritional needs, or enough income to buy essential items.
The project aims to increase household incomes, food security and nutrition quality by helping rural communities to develop agricultural commodities and agribusinesses that can generate a profit and respond to market demand. Training will be made available so that farmers can improve their skills and knowledge in order to modernize production techniques.
The project will also invest in infrastructure, including improved irrigation to ensure a reliable supply of water to farms and household gardens, and rural access roads to facilitate farm to market mobility.
“The potential for smallholder agriculture in Chin and Magway is immense. We need to unlock this potential by providing training, financial services and access to markets to facilitate the transition from subsistence to commercial agriculture. Rural transformation in these areas is possible with the right support,” said Alessandro Marini, IFAD Country Programme Manager for Myanmar.
Due to its past isolation, Myanmar's agriculture sector has not benefited fully from global advances in agricultural technology. IFAD's strategy in the country is to focus on modernizing agriculture, upgrading value chains, fostering links between smallholder farmers and agribusinesses, diversifying livelihoods, promoting rural enterprises and generating employment off the farm.
The project area comprises the southern Chin state and northern Magway region. The project aims to reach about 76,800 rural households, of which 10,200 are in Chin and 66,600 are in Magway, and create about 4,500 jobs both on and off farm.
Since 2014, IFAD has financed three projects in Myanmar, for a total investment of $113.2 million, of which IFAD has provided $90.7 million. These projects have directly impacted 176,810 rural households.
Re-disseminated by The Asian Banker