In remote Atlas Mountains, UN agricultural fund aids Moroccans

In remote Atlas Mountains, UN agricultural fund aids Moroccans

More than 75,000 people living in remote mountain villages in Morocco will benefit from a new $34.4 million development project to improve agricultural production, strengthen infrastructure, and diversify income sources, the United Nations agricultural fund announced today.

“At the moment, as in much of rural Morocco, these farmers are not equipped to face the challenges of an economy that is opening up to free market competition,” said Mounif Nourallah, country programme manager for Morocco of the UN International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), which is providing a $16.2 million loan for the project.

“Through better management of water, land and animal resources, and improved access to technical, financial and other support services, farmers will be able to increase and diversify their incomes in a sustainable manner,” Mr. Nourallah added.

The loan agreement was signed yesterday at IFAD headquarters in Rome by the fund’s President, Lennart Båge, and Tajeddine Baddou, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco, which is co-financing the project along with the OPEC Fund.

IFAD said that communities will be at the heart of the project, which will help people in Boulmane Provice, one of the country’s poorest regions, prepare local development plans that address their priorities for development.

Training will help strengthen their ability to plan and participate in the implementation and maintenance of investment activities, access rural financial services and create micro-enterprises, the fund added.

In the area to benefit from the project, small farmers generally grow cereals on very small plots, where productivity is low because of severe climatic fluctuations and erosion causes flooding and landslides, IFAD said.