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January 07, 2012

Lesotho: new financing aims to help rural farmers

The United Nations agency that works to improve the lives of the world's rural poor is providing $10 million to help small farmers in Lesotho boost agricultural production.

The agreement signed in Rome between the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Government of Lesotho comprises a $5 million loan and a $5 million grant to increase market opportunities for smallholder farmers and improve production in four of the tiny nation's 10 districts.

Over 70 per cent of Lesotho's population lives in rural areas, according to a news release issued by IFAD, which adds that more than three quarters of them are involved in agriculture.

Lesotho's rural population has been hit hard in recent years by a steady decline in remittances from migrant mine workers in South Africa, a major source of cash for purchasing agricultural inputs or making other necessary investments.

About 15,000 rural households are expected to benefit from the project, the latest in a total of eight programmes and projects IFAD has financed in Lesotho for about $60.3 million.

For over three decades, IFAD has invested about $13.7 billion in grants and low-interest loans to developing countries, empowering about 405 million people to break out of poverty and to create vibrant rural communities.

UN News

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