Guinea set to improve 65,000 rural households incomes

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Government of Guinea signed a new financial agreement today to help more than 65,000 rural households raise their incomes, improve their diets and increase their ability to deal with climate change.

The project will target 15 prefectures in the Upper and Middle Guinea regions, which are the poorest and most vulnerable in the country.

The agreement for the Family Farming, Resilience and Market Project in Upper and Middle Guinea was signed in Rome by Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD, and Mohammed Chérif Diallo, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Guinea.

The total cost of the project is US$97.1 million, including a $15.5 million loan and $15.5 million debt sustainability framework grant from IFAD. The project will be cofinanced by the OPEC Fund for International Development ($15 million), the Belgian Fund for Food Security ($5 million), the Government of Guinea ($11 million) and by the beneficiaries themselves ($4.3 million). The financing gap of $30.9 million will be covered from future IFAD financing rounds or by potential cofinancing partners.

Guinea was hard hit by the Ebola crisis between February 2014 and June 2016. The mining industry accounts for 90 per cent of exports but provides few jobs, employing less than 2.5 per cent of the active population. It also carries significant social and environmental risks.

For all these reasons, the Government of Guinea has decided to make agriculture a priority and increase its investment in the sector. Guinea will allocate 12.5 per cent of its budget to agriculture, up from the current level of 7.3 per cent.

In Guinea, about 60 per cent of the population lives in rural areas, which constitutes 80 per cent of the country’s poor people. The Upper and the Middle Guinea regions have poverty rates of 67.5 per cent and 55.4 per cent, respectively. Food insecurity affects 17.6 per cent of the population.

Guinea has underdeveloped agricultural potential, corresponding to an opportunity to increase incomes and food security. Despite the favourable soil and weather conditions, only 25 per cent of potential arable land is cultivated. The agriculture sector consists mainly of family farms focusing on food crops, rice, maize, tubers and palm oil, but is insufficient to meet the growing demand for food.

The new project will focus especially on women and young people.  It aims to sustainably increase family farm production, as well as resilience to external shocks such as climate change, through better water management and by training farmers in improved and resilient cropping techniques. The project will also strengthen rural grass-roots organizations and associations, create jobs, and improve farm families’ nutritional status.

Access to markets is crucial if farmers are going to sell their production surpluses. The project will build or restore markets, and will rehabilitate 600 km of rural roads and install 46 management and maintenance structures. In addition, it will set up 21 public-private partnerships for sustainable market management and provide technical and financial support to 2,000 rural enterprises.

Since 1980, IFAD has financed 14 rural development programs and projects in Guinea at a total cost of $ 469.6 million, with an IFAD investment of $244.0 million. These projects have directly benefited 651,450 rural households.