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Feeding a brighter future in Burundi
OFID has partnered with the International Fund for Agriculture Development to support Burundi’s strategic focus on agriculture for food security and economic growth.
A US$6m loan agreement was signed to support Burundi to increase agricultural output, heighten food security, combat malnutrition and reduce poverty.
“Burundi has made significant steps toward achieving the education and health targets of the MDGs,” Ndihokubwayo said of his country. “But considerable additional efforts need to be made to improve the lives of the population and to meet the SDGs.”
OFID’s loan will co-finance a second phase of the Agriculture Value Chain Development Program. OFID supported the first phase of the Program in 2011. “Some 90 percent of Burundians live from agriculture and livestock farming. Therefore, the agriculture sector is very important to the national economy and will remain so despite the major challenges it witnesses,” explained Ndihokubwayo.
Burundi is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world. Years of civil war and economic embargo have devastated infrastructure, value chains, and the agriculture sector.
Formerly self-sufficient in its food production, the country now struggles to feed itself and has the second highest malnutrition rate in the world. Most households grow their own crops, dominating the sector with family-run subsistence farms. This results in small-scale multi-cropping practices which yield enough for personal consumption but provide few additional resources to boost economic growth or feed the remaining population.
The Agriculture Value Chain Development Program supports post-trauma schemes to aid conflict victims and reconstruction efforts. It also incorporates national education programs to combat chronic malnutrition. Minister Ndihokubwayo advised that the government was focused on the mobilization of financial and human resources “to develop the agriculture sector from one that is subsistence-based to one that is market-orientated.”
The country has potential to produce valuable cash crops such as coffee, tea, and cotton which could make an important contribution to GDP. The Agriculture Value Chain Development Program will supply farmer’s with additional provisions—including seed, fertilizer and cattle—to increase crop and livestock production.
The construction of eleven hydro-agricultural regions will help diversify food supply to the land-locked country. Phase two includes important climate change adaptations to protect rural investments. It will also educate farmers on productive and sustainable agricultural methods to cope with climate change while increasing output. The Program also introduces community and organizational frameworks to regenerate value chains—with priority given to rice and dairy production.
Institutional changes will facilitate increased employment and microenterprise opportunities. “These activities will stimulate economic growth, through which the quality of life for the population can grow,” Ndihokubwayo stated with positivity, adding: “Being a small country does not mean Burundi cannot perform as well as other countries have.”