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February 21, 2009

IFAD loans Tanzania $56 million to boost farmer productivity

The United Nations has given Tanzania a $56 million loan through its rural development unit to support a programme aimed at boosting poor farmers' productivity.

The loan from the U.N. International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will help small-scale farmers by supporting the government's Agricultural Sector Development Programme -- which needs $315.6 million over a seven-year period.

"The loan ... will go towards helping poor rural women and men living on less than $1 a day to boost their agricultural productivity and incomes," the U.N. said in a statement on its Web site. "The programme also assists people most vulnerable to food insecurity by giving them access to agricultural knowledge, technologies, marketing systems and infrastructure."

More than half of Tanzania's population of about 40 million depends on agriculture for a living, with most tending small plots of less than an acre.

Late last month the east African country stopped issuing food export permits, saying it had insufficient food to sell and needed to give aid to more than 240,000 people.

The east African economy is among the continent's highest per capita aid recipients. In its budget for the year to June 2009, the government said donors would provide 34 percent of its spending money.

Other contributors to the Agricultural Sector Development Programme include the World Bank, the African Development Bank, Irish Aid, the Embassy of Japan and the European Union.

Reuters

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