Panama’s rural poor to benefit from UN-backed development project

15 July 2008

A new project backed by the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) aims to improve the lives of some 10,000 men and women in rural Panama – the majority of them small farmers, landless labourers, unemployed youth and female heads of household.

IFAD is providing a $4.2 million loan towards the six-year, $12.3 million project, under an agreement signed today in Rome by the agency’s President Lennart Båge and the Ambassador of Panama to IFAD, Eudoro Jaén Esquivel.

The project targets the five poorest districts of Veraguas Province in central Panama and those whose annual income is less than $953. It will focus on promoting new income-generating activities and identifying new national and international markets to sell produce.

To help the region’s farmers, the project will provide basic inputs and technical assistance to increase productivity, as well as programmes to enhance access to micro-credit and to improve their business skills.

The project will feature an innovative “territorial development council,” consisting of local government representatives, producers and community groups who will make up the main decision-making body.

IFAD has now financed eight rural development and poverty eradication projects in Panama, committing over $80 million.

 

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