A United Nations-backed project worth almost $40 million is aiming to boost agricultural production and employment prospects for some 95,000 poor households in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, an area that suffers from a harsh, arid climate and low rainfall.
The loan of $30.3 million and grant of $600,000 from the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will help finance the “Mitigating Poverty in Western Rajasthan Project” in the six districts of Jokhpur, Jaisalmer, Barmer, Pali, Sirohi and Jalor.
The project will focus on boosting income-generating activities in the livestock, handicraft and tourism sectors for landless labourers, small and marginal farmers, owners of marginal land, traditional artisans, women and young people.
This particular area of western Rajasthan suffers from severe lack of water, poor agricultural and livestock productivity, limited income-generating opportunities and a patriarchal system that discriminates against women.
The UN-backed programme seeks to improve farming practices through watershed management, promote both self employment and wage employment opportunities, and provide access to financial services and markets.
The project has some innovative features such as piloting low-cost schemes for health insurance and dairy animal insurance, and a new market-driven approach in partnership with the private sector in identifying viable income-generating activities.
“This project has been designed in convergence with existing Government-funded schemes so as to maximize the effectiveness of public expenditure and ensure sustainability beyond project completion,” said Mattia Prayer Galletti, IFAD’s Country Programme Manager for India.
To date, IFAD has financed 22 programmes and projects in India, approving loans for a total of $595.3 million.