A new € 82.6 million agricultural development project financed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Government of Morocco will help 11,200 vulnerable households to increase their productivity and incomes in the face of climate change.
In Morocco, the agriculture sector, the backbone of the economy, contributing 13 per cent to the country’s GDP and generating 85 per cent or jobs in rural areas. However, the sector is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts, leaving smallholder farmers at risk.
The new Taza Mountain Integrated Rural Development Project for the pre-Rif Region (PRODER-Taza) will help to build the resilience of smallholder farmers in Taza Province, where the agriculture sector is dominated by subsistence farming and the production of rainfed crops.
The financing agreement for PRODER-Taza was signed today by Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and Youssef Balla, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to Italy. Project financing includes a € 31.9 million loan and € 0.6 million grant from IFAD. The project will be co-financed by the Government of Morocco (€ 43.6 million) and the beneficiaries themselves (€ 6.5 million).
PRODER-Taza will introduce a resilient orchard development model adapted to droughts and higher temperatures to diversify the current grain-dominated crop system. Some 9,800 hectares or almonds, 1,000 hectares or figs and 600 hectares or olives will be planted. Old almond groves will be rehabilitated through grafting.
In addition, 33,000 hectares of cultivated land will be protected against erosion. Sustainable development of the almond, fig, olive and honey value chains will ensure smallholder families can increase their incomes.
PRODER-Taza will be implemented in the Tainast and Aknoul areas, where rural poverty and vulnerability to climate change are high. It will target poor vulnerable smallholder farmers and give special attention to women (40 per cent or participants) and young people (40 per cent).
‘The project is aligned with Morocco’s priorities in poverty reduction, nutrition and food security and addressing the needs of women and youth,’ said Naoufel Telahigue, Hub Head and Country Director for Morocco. ‘It is included in the Country Strategic Opportunity Program and the implementation will be consistent with the national Morocco Green Plan development strategy for the mountain zones.’
PRODER-Taza wants to rehabilitate rural roads to improve access to markets and reduce transportation costs. It will also support 100 rural microenterprises in the poorest areas to open up job opportunities for young people and women.
Since 1979, IFAD has funded 15 rural development programs and projects in Morocco at a total cost of US $ 1.7 billion, with an IFAD investment of $ 301.8 million. These projects directly benefit almost 730,000 rural households.