The International Fund for Agricultural Development and Bangladesh on Wednesday signed a financing agreement to significantly increase incomes and food and nutrition security for 250,000 rural households in southern Bangladesh where the highest percentage of rural poor reside.
The agreement for the Smallholder Agricultural Competitiveness Project was signed by Gilbert F Houngbo, president of IFAD, and Sultana Afroz, additional secretary, Economic Relations Division of the ministry of finance, Bangladesh.
The total cost of SACP is US$109.85 million, including a $64.5 million loan and a $2 million grant from IFAD. The project will be cofinanced by the Government of Bangladesh ($28.65 million), the private sector ($8.1 million), and beneficiaries ($6.6 million).
It will be implemented over six years and directly supervised by IFAD, said a press release.
The main goal of the project is to help smallholder farmers to be more responsive and competitive in producing diverse, high value crops and marketing fresh and processed agricultural products.
‘Though Bangladesh has made great economic strides, poverty levels in rural areas are not declining as fast as they are in urban ones,’ said Omer Zafar, IFAD country director for Bangladesh.
‘In the project area, 39 per cent of the people are still living below
the poverty line. Food security and undernutrition continue to be major concerns. The average rural household in Bangladesh still gains 71 per cent of its calories from rice,’ he added.
The project will be implemented in 11 districts covering 30 upazilas (or townships) in the southern region of Bangladesh.
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