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New IFAD fund launched to help prevent rural food crisis in wake of COVID-19

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©IFAD/Francesco Cabras

Rome, 20 April 2020 – With the COVID-19 pandemic and economic slowdown threatening the lives and livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable people, the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) today committed US$40 million, and launched an urgent appeal for additional funds, to support farmers and rural communities to continue growing and selling food.

IFAD’s new multi-donor fund, the COVID-19 Rural Poor Stimulus Facility(link is external), will mitigate the effects of the pandemic on food production, market access and rural employment.  As part of the broader UN socio-economic response framework, the Facility will ensure that farmers in the most vulnerable countries have timely access to inputs, information, markets and liquidity. On top of its own contribution, IFAD aims to raise at least $200 million more from Member States, foundations and the private sector.

“We need to act now to stop this health crisis transforming into a food crisis,” said Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD. “The fallout from COVID-19 may push rural families even deeper into poverty, hunger and desperation, which is a real threat to global prosperity and stability. With immediate action, we can provide rural people with the tools to adapt and ensure a quicker recovery, averting an even bigger humanitarian crisis.”

With their movements restricted to contain further spread of the virus, many small-scale farmers are unable to access markets to sell produce or to buy inputs, such as seeds or fertilizer. Closures of major transport routes and export bans are also likely to affect food systems adversely. As entire production chains are disrupted and unemployment rises, the most vulnerable include daily labourers, small businesses and informal workers, who are very often women and young people. The return of workers from cities affected by lockdowns will put further strain on rural households, which will also stop receiving much needed remittances.

About 80 percent of the world’s poorest and most food insecure people live in rural areas. Even before the outbreak, more than 820 million people were going hungry every day. A recent United Nations University study warned that in a worst-case scenario, the economic impact of the pandemic could push a further half-billion people into poverty.

“This pandemic is threatening the gains we have made in reducing poverty over the past years. To avoid serious disruption to rural economies, it is essential to ensure agriculture, food chains, markets and trade continue to function,” said Houngbo.

“A majority of the world’s most impoverished people are already suffering the consequences of climate change and conflict. An economic downturn in rural areas could compound these effects, generating more hunger and increasing instability, especially in fragile states.”

The Rural Poor Stimulus Facility(link is external) will focus on the following activities:

  • Provide inputs for production of crops, livestock and fisheries to small-scale producers so that they can weather the immediate effects of the economic crisis.
  • Facilitate access to markets to support small-scale farmers to sell their products in conditions where restricted movement is interrupting the functioning of markets, including providing logistics and storage support.
  • Provide targeted funds for rural financial services to ensure sufficient liquidity is available and to ease immediate loan repayment requirements to maintain services, markets and jobs for poor rural people.
  • Use digital services to share key information on production, weather, finance and markets.

IFAD has significant experience in working in fragile situations improving the resilience of rural populations. For example, in Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak, IFAD-supported banks were the sole providers of banking and financial services in affected areas. They provided timely assistance during the outbreak and supported the renewal of the rural economy after the crisis passed.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, IFAD was already stepping up its programmes and calling on member states to increase investments in rural development to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2 – ending hunger.

“A timely response to the pandemic is an opportunity to rebuild the world’s food systems along more sustainable and inclusive lines and build the resilience of rural populations to crisis, whether related to health, climate or conflict,” said Houngbo.

IFAD has received requests from governments in more than 65 countries to help respond to the impact of the pandemic. It has already adapted its projects and diverted funds to support this.


PR/20/2020

IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided US$22.4 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached an estimated 512 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a United Nations specialized agency based in Rome – the United Nations food and agriculture hub.

Original Source: https://www.ifad.org/en/web/latest/news-detail/asset/41877895

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Anti-tick vaccine drive gives hope to farmers

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Dairy farmers in Ankole Sub-region are optimistic that the anti-tick vaccine launched by the government will solve their problem of tick resistance to acaricides.
For the last 10 years, dairy farmers across the country have decried tick resistance to acaricides, which has been ravaging the livestock sector.

Mr Emmanuel Kyeishe, a resident of Rushere in Kiruhura District and dairy farmer with more than 100 head of cattle, says dairy farmers in the cattle corridor have battled the problem of tick resistance for a long time.
“The issue of ticks has been rampant in the cattle corridor to the extent of losing our cows. We spend a lot on treating them because of ticks since they infect animals with several diseases,”  he said.

Mr Kyeishe said he loses at least two cows every month to tick-borne diseases like East Coast Fever and heart water.
“I have lost 180 cows in the last five years due to ticks and tick-borne diseases. If they do not die, they get blind and some lose their skin. But if we get a vaccine, it will have saved us a lot,” he said.
Mr Kyeishe added that he has resorted to mixing agrochemicals with acaricides since the available ones on the market are failing.

Mr Jackson Bells Katongole, a dairy farmer in Kashari, Mbarara District, said if the government’s move to have anti-tick vaccine is successful, quality of dairy products would improve.
“A farmer loses at least two to five cows every month and we have resorted to using different concoctions from Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya because the problem of ticks has made us helpless,” he said.
He added: “We had reached the point of mixing pesticides with acaricides because of tick resistance and in the process our cows have gone blind, lost skin and others died.”

Mr Katongole further said each cow that dies is valued at around Shs2.5 million, which means that a farmer loses Shs5 million every month.
The Mbarara City Veterinary Officer, Dr Andrew Akashaba, said in Mbarara alone, there are about 60,000 head of cattle, mostly exotic breeds which are prone to ticks.
“Most of the exotic breeds of cattle are at a high risk of acquiring ticks and tick borne diseases, which are a major hindrance to livestock development in the cattle corridor,” he said.
Mr Akashaba added that between 2,000 and 3,000 cows die annually in Mbarara alone due to tick-related diseases.

While launching the final clinical trial of anti-tick vaccine manufactured by National Agriculture Research Organisation at Mbarara Zardi on Thursday, the deputy director general and research coordinator, Dr Yona Baguma, assured the farmers that once the vaccine is approved, they will be spraying their cattle against ticks twice in six months as opposed to twice a week.

Original source: Monitor

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Farmers fail to access farm inputs on Ministry e-platform

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About 3,640 model farmers in Nebbi District, who were registered under the Agricultural Cluster Development Programme (ACDP) to access agricultural inputs on E-voucher, are stuck after failure of the system.

The farmers say the system has affected their planting patterns.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry under the Agriculture cluster Development Programme (ACDP) introduced the e-voucher system five years ago to enable farmers access agricultural inputs electronically.

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Farmers on alert as new banana virus hits Western Uganda

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Farmers should stop getting banana plantlets from districts in Western and North-West Uganda to stop the spread of the Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) disease, Hebert Musiimenta, the Principal Agricultural Inspector in the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries-MAAIF has advised.

The Banana Bunchy Top Virus was first observed in the western Uganda districts in late 2020. In July this year, the ministry raised a red flag when the disease caused havoc on banana plantations in West Nile, Rwenzori and Tooro regions.

An infected plant presents with severe stunting, narrow leaves, chlorotic leaf margins, and dark green streaks on petioles and midribs. The affected plant also shows a rosette-like or bunchy and choked appearance. Diseased plants rarely produce fruit and when they do, the fruit is stunted and twisted.

The disease is spread by aphids and the planting of affected tubers.

The disease has the capacity to wipe out banana gardens within 3 to 5 years unless farmers practice the control measures such as the proper destruction of affected stems, control of aphids, and planting clean materials.

Hebert Musiimenta, Principal Agricultural Inspector in the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), says to contain the spread of the disease, farmers should stop getting banana planting materials from Nebbi, Zombo, Arua, Maracha, and Koboko districts in North-West Uganda and Bunyangabu, Kasese, Kabarore, and Bundibugyo districts in Western Uganda.

He also advises the farmers to be cautious about planting materials from Kisoro, Kabale, Ntungamo, and Isingiro districts since they are near the border.  The disease is suspected to have spread to Uganda from the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. Musiimenta advised farmers in an interview with URN that if they are to pick planting materials, they should first consult agriculture officers in their areas to recommend safe planting materials.

Musimenta revealed that a team of officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries, and Fisheries is investigating the prevalence of the virus in Kigezi region specifically districts neighboring Rwanda and DR Congo.

He says the disease has the capacity to wipe out banana gardens within 3 to 5 years unless farmers practice the control measures such as the proper destruction of affected stems, control of aphids, and planting clean materials.

Original Source: URN via The independent

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