India is receiving a loan of nearly $90 million from the United Nations to improve agricultural livelihoods in the small north-western state of Uttarakhand, one of the poorest areas in the country.
The money, resulting from an agreement signed today between the Government and the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), will go towards the Integrated Livelihoods Support Project, which aims to support and develop the food production system in Uttarakhand by improving technologies for traditional food crops and livestock.
The project will enable farmers to earn more by selling cash crops, according to the Rome-based agency. Production of off-season vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes and peas will increase and better marketing arrangements will be put in place.
The project, which will cover 143,000 households, will also introduce new crops and products such as nuts, spices, medicinal and aromatic plants. Among those expected to benefit are small rural producers, women, scheduled caste households and young people.
Although many households in Uttarakhand have land, the holdings are very small and the tiny terraced plots on steep hillsides make mechanization extremely difficult, points out IFAD, the agency that works with rural people to help them break out of poverty.
With this new project, IFAD will have financed 24 programmes and projects in India since 1978 for a total investment of $746 million.