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2012 has been declared by the United Nations (UN) as the International Year of Cooperatives. However, it all starts today on the 31st October, when the year is officially launched at the UN Headquarters in New York.

At the launch the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) will host a side event that focuses on agricultural cooperatives and their importance for food security. The event will be webcast and you can tune in at 1.15 pm (GMT -4).

Cooperatives are business enterprises owned and controlled by the members they serve. The difference between cooperatives and other types of businesses lies in the importance of keeping the balance between pursuing profit and meeting the interests of the community and their members. According to ILO cooperatives provide 100 million jobs worldwide. Agricultural cooperatives are important in supporting small agricultural producers and marginalized groups because they create sustainable rural employment, and they facilitate access to markets, food and productive assets. They also help them influence policy and decision making.

For the International Year of Cooperatives and beyond, the three Rome-based United Nations agencies (FAO, IFAD and WFP) will continue to raise awareness and support rural institutions, farmer and producer associations, and cooperatives.

For more information: Agricultural Cooperatives: Paving the way for Food Security and Rural Development.

Photo credit: ©IFAD/Radhika Chalasani

Africa's small farmers - a change of thinking

Posted by Roxanna Samii Thursday, October 27, 2011 1 comments

by Mohamed Beavogui

As an African but also a development practitioner, I've seen a lot of good ideas and best intentions left broken and long forgotten in farmers' fields.

In so many cases, the reason is simple. One idea, one piece of technology on its own seldom addresses the multiplicity of problems facing the average smallholder farmer struggling to make a living on a small patch of land in a remote corner of his or her country. Yet too often, that's exactly what people look for - an easy fix or a single solution.

In my experience, both in the field and now as the Director of the Western and Central Africa Division at IFAD, what makes a real difference is something more fundamental - it's how we look at Africa's smallholder farmers.

Do we see them as victims - poverty stricken women and men trapped in cycles of subsistence farming - or as potential entrepreneurs struggling to run small businesses in places were basic tools such as finance, technology, training and access to markets are unavailable? It's my belief that we need a paradigm shift in the way we think - one that takes us away from old ideas of African agriculture which rely on basic farming practices and on government and donor handouts and, instead, focuses on creating a vibrant rural economy built on establishing the right business environment for small farmers.

A woman I know in Ghana is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. Her name is Faustina Sayki. She runs a successful cassava processing centre in a small rural town. She employs 34 women and produces about 30 tonnes of cassava flour, known as gari, a week. Her customers are in the US, UK, Nigeria and Mali. She also extracts starch from cassava and sells it to local textile and pharmaceutical factories. Many describe her as a national success story.

So how did a poor cassava farmer in a remote community build a successful cassava-processing factory? A business environment was created that gave her a chance, that's how.

Through the IFAD-supported Roots and Tubers Project Improvement and Marketing Programme she received support she needed to respond directly to market opportunities. For example, she received training that helped her strengthen her entrepreneurial skills and business savvy; and she had access to expert research and adapted technologies that helped her improve her factory's efficiency and produce a higher quality and quantity of gari.

With a sound business plan and a savings history, she was able to access private equity from a rural bank. Together, these things enabled Faustina to enter the market with a well-priced, reliable, high-quality product that is now in demand. Her story suggests what's possible once we put away old notions and start looking at small farming in Africa as a business opportunity.

Originally posted on World Challenge blog

Betting on llamas

Posted by Greg Benchwick Wednesday, October 26, 2011 0 comments

In Bolivia’s cold and harsh altiplano, llamas, alpacas and vicuñas are big business. Through the IFAD-funded Camelid Valorization Programme (better known to locals as Proyecto VALE), ranchers are increasing their incomes, protecting the environment and transforming their lives thanks to improved management practices of these loveable little creatures.

Learn more with videos from project participants (en español).

Viceministro de Desarrollo Rural de Bolivia Víctor Hugo Vásquez - Proyecto VALE
En esta entrevista el Viceministro de Desarrollo Rural de Bolivia, Víctor Hugo Vásquez, destaca los logros y desafíos del Proyecto de Apoyo a la Valorización de la Economía Campesina de Camélidos (VALE). Este proyecto está destinado a mejorar las condiciones productivas de los microempresarios pobres del sector de los camélidos en el Altiplano andino. Su principal objetivo es mejorar el acceso de estos productores —en particular, mujeres y jóvenes— a recursos productivos esenciales como el crédito, la asistencia técnica y el conocimiento, que les permitan incrementar sus rendimientos y mejorar sus ingresos. Además, el proyecto busca influir en las políticas públicas nacionales a fin de que incorporen la economía de camélidos en las estrategias de reducción de la pobreza rural.

Testimonios Directos – Ide Fatima de Ayllu Mimani (Proyecto VALE Bolivia)
Ide Fatima de Ayllu Mimani es usuaria del Proyecto de Apoyo a la Valorización de la Economía Campesina de Camélidos (VALE). En este testimonio directo, ella explica su emprendimiento de llamas.

Testimonios Directos - Gervasio Mimani (Proyecto VALE Bolivia)
Gervasio Mimani es usuario del Proyecto de Apoyo a la Valorización de la Economía Campesina de Camélidos (VALE). En este testimonio directo explica su emprendimiento de llamas y sus esperanzas para el futuro.

Testimonios Directos – Calzados Arriba (Proyecto VALE Bolivia)
En este testimonio, un usuario del Proyecto de Apoyo a la Valorización de la Economía Campesina de Camélidos (VALE), nos explica como los calzados se han convertido en mecanismo para salir de la pobreza.

Testimonios Directos - Patricia Ramírez Nuñez, 23 (Proyecto VALE Bolivia)
Patricia Ramírez Nuñez es usuaria del Proyecto de Apoyo a la Valorización de la Economía Campesina de Camélidos (VALE). En este testimonio directo, ella explica su emprendimiento de turismo y destaca los cambios en términos de equidad de género que han visto en los últimos años en Bolivia.

Testimonios Directos - Marcos Sebastian Ramírez Nuñez (Turismo Sostenible en Bolivia)
Marcos Sebastian Ramírez Nuñez es usuario del Proyecto de Apoyo a la Valorización de la Economía Campesina de Camélidos (VALE). En este testimonio directo, el universitario explica su emprendimiento de turismo.

All photos and videos ©IFAD/Greg Benchwick

Lila Downs – Reverence, Hope, Change

Posted by Greg Benchwick Monday, October 24, 2011 0 comments

Mexico’s favourite singer-songwriter dishes on development, gender, indigenous issues, peace and music

Lila Downs is a Grammy-award winner, Academy Award nominee, singer, songwriter and activist. Her songs tap the heart of indigenous Mexican traditions, also looking to world beats and pop to create an effervescence message of reverence, hope and change.

In this videocast, we interview Lila Downs on indigenous issues, violence, music and culture in Latin America. Her frank and incisive answers provide a unique glimpse into contemporary trends in rural development, gender equality and indigenous rights. Learn more about Lila at www.liladowns.com.

Photos and music courtesy Lila Downs.
Photo credits:
Lila Downs Turquoise - ©Fernando Aceves
Lila Lagrima de Maiz - ©Luna Maran
Lila Pensando - ©Elena Pardo
Metate - ©Ricardo Trabulsi

All other photos ©IFAD/Greg Benchwick.

KLM5 Takes Off at DA-BSWM Grounds

Posted by lando Wednesday, October 19, 2011 1 comments

GAME ON! Gathered in the grounds through the bujong call, KLM5 opens with a bang with representatives from DA, DAR, DTI, UN Women, and IFAD.

The 5th Knowledge and Learning Market (KLM5) officially opened on October 19, 2011, in the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Soils and Water Management (DA-BSWM) grounds, Quezon City. KLM5 is a two-day activity

DA Undersecretary Joel Rudinas and DAR Undersecretary Rosalina Bistoyong led the ribbon-cutting ceremony with IFAD-Philippines Country Programme Officer Yolando Arban. Also present in the ceremony are DAR-Region 10 Director Felix Aguhob, DAR-Region 13 Director Faisal Banduay, UN Women M&E Officer Loren Umali, RuMEPP Director Jerry Clavesillas, DAR-FAPSO Officer Susan Perez, and DAR Director Susan Leones.

Booths showcasing products and various information materials were opened to participants. Exhibitors are composed of government agencies, NGOs, academic institutions, and IFAD-funded projects such as the RaFPEP, CHARMP2, RUPES, CURE, NMCIREMP, and RuMePP.

Participants of the event expressed excitement over the event and to the products that exhibitors offer. Aside from the booths, entries for the photo and t-shirt design contests are displayed. A photo booth is also available for the participants to take quirky shots wearing different costumes. (Written by Sharleene Kay Alayan, RaFPEP/Photo courtesy of Patrick Depolio, CHARMP2)


ALL SET. Creative juices can help a lot in decorating the sixteen (16) booths for the KLM5 to showcase knowledge products during the event.

Exhibitors flocked at the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Soils and Water Management (DA-BSWM) grounds, Quezon City, Philippines on October 18, 2011 to set up booths for the 5th Knowledge and Learning Market (KLM5). The KLM5 will be held on October 19-20, 2011 at the BSWM Convention Hall.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) organizes the KLM yearly. For this year, KLM5 adopts the theme “Gender and Youth: Innovative Waves in Rural Development,” which aims to rally the support of different sectors on gender equality and to involve youth in rural development.

Activities during the two-day activity are forums on gender and development, career-matching sessions for youth participants, photo and t-shirt design contests, and product exhibit booths.


Government agencies, NGOs, academic institutions, and IFAD-funded projects such as the RaFPEP, CHARMP2, RUPES, CURE, Philippines Farmers Forum, RTC-CIP, NMCIREMP, and RuMePP compose the exhibitors. They shall showcase not just products for selling but also information for sharing such as scholarships, career offerings and opportunities, and backgrounder of agencies involved in the event.

The ingress activity or setting up of booths was conducted at 9:00 AM until 7:00 PM. Exhibitors expressed enthusiasm on the main event.

Text Box: FINAL TOUCHES. Ms. Angelica Barlis of the CIP arranges the potato products and information materials they shall be showcasing at KLM5.

“We’re vying for the best booth!,” Ms. Grace Aquillo of National Irrigation Administration said.

See more photos of KLM5: Ingress at IFAD Philippines Facebook page:


Snapshot - Budding Talents

Posted by Greg Benchwick Tuesday, October 18, 2011 0 comments

Nicaragua's PRODESEC project puts area youth in the drivers' seat

Learning Path Workshop,  a snapshot of the event…

The South-South learning exchange “SCAMPIS Learning Path” took place in Madagascar from 3rd to 7th October 2011 between 3 continents:  Asia (India), Latin America (Guatemala) and Africa (Madagascar). 
The main goal was sharing and learning from each country’s knowledge and experiences to find out integrated and sustainable strategies for scaling-up the micro-irrigation systems. Knowledge sharing and learning was held mainly in the field with farmers. Each country should end up with innovations (to be taken home) and suggestions from their experiences (to be shared) with highly participative and proactive approaches.

Challenges and achievements
Learning: The learning process was fully achieved for all participants. Each one went back home with at least 2 innovations or proposals to be tested in his/her country. Six topics have been discussed during the field visits: technology adoption, nutrition,  natural fertilization and pesticide, promotional activities, access to rural finance, value chain (from manufacturing to the end user).

Sharing: A very high level of participation was reached as well as socialization of all participants. Sharing among the group was successful during formal or informal visits. The actors such as farmers, dealers or manufacturers we visited were able to interact with the LP group to ask questions or suggestions from the 3 countries.

Networking: The LP participants as well as local and national stakeholders expressed their willingness to continue learning and sharing from each other. Anyhow the most effective tools and ways still need to be defined.

Lessons learnt from the countries Each country took lessons and brought back home many innovations that came out from exchanges, field visits and discussions. The main ones were:
*       Use of recycled materials for manufacturing water pumps (experience from Madagascar)
*       Use of audio, video, media as part of scaling-up strategies
*       Nutrition/cooking lessons as an integrated approach toward the MIS (experience from Guatemala)
*       Use of public places such as schools and hospitals as demonstration sites as per promotional strategy (experience from Guatemala)
*       Promotion of adaptable kits according to needs and demands of farmers (size and accessories) (suggestion from India)

3rd October 2011
1)       1)Participants presentations and identifications of the objectives of the LP workshop
2)       2)Agenda of the workshop and methodology for learning
3)       3)Field visit : Ambohimanga –Mr Mamy, progressive farmer
From the LP Diary  “First day of LP is quite exciting, eye opened for me (and hopefully for all) on the ‘SCAMPIS world” Debasis (India)

4th October 2011
Activities  (field visits)
1)      1) Itaosy: exchange with dealer, technical promoter and farmers : theater performances and presentation of India on 2)Promotions Strategies implemented by IDEI for Scampis project
2)       3)Visita at Gasc’art  studio in Bevalala – pump manufactur 
        4)Visit at the « La Ferme d’Ivato : farmers association with bio-production using MIS

From the LP Diary « A pesar del cansancio y el cambio de hora, conoces a tantas personces involocrudas en el desarollo y la alimentacion de las personas es satisfactorio. Tenemos idiomas y costumbres diferentes peso estamos hoa endo lo mismo » Rolando (Guatemala)

5th October 2011
1)       Guatemala presentation (Prorural & Scampis Guatemala project)
2)       Imeritsiatosika (Field Visit): progressive dealer who implements micro-rural finance
3)       Centre Tsinjoaina (Field Visit): meeting with a small association of women who use rotative fund for improve livelihood condition (health, food security, agriculture with micro-irrigation, etc); presentation on the role of the Self Help Groups in India and interactions with OTELP programme
4)       Ambohijafy field visit and meeting with, dealer and farmer, presentation on technologies adaptation and strategy of the dealer; presentation of the Guatemalean strategies in the schools: advantages and difficulties in promoting the technologies in the school and implementing school gardens
5)       Patrakala & Innovagri presentations « Production and empowerment strategy of the production and distribution chain »  - MICRO-IRRIGATION KIT MANUFACTURERS

From the LP Diary “Today the field visit with the local NGOs and other stakeholders was more interacting on the Scampis programme. We came to know their role in the Scampis programme Madagascar” NCP (India)

6th October 2011
1)       Practical exercise: production of MIS kits with Patrakala and Innovagri
2)       Village de la Joie (Field Visit)Introduction of the village ;
3)       Exchange and practice on nutrition, Guatemala facilitation : preparation of carrot dessert and carrots and organge juice
4)       Exchange and practice on natural fertilization : Guatemala facilitation (vermi-compost) and Director of Protection des Végétaux Madagascar (natural pesticide)

From the LP diary « C’est une journée où on a eu le plus d’échanges sur la valorisation des produits issus du SMI (proposition de recettes) avec Guatemala, et les engrais liquides ainsi que les luttes bio contre les maladies et insectes », Christin (Madagascar)

7th October 2011
Final workshop open to the public :
1)       Focuses on SCAMPIS India, Guatemala and Madagascar : presentations on  « innovations I will suggest, difficulties perceived by the communities and suggestions »
2)       Role of communication (audio, viedeo and other media)
3)       « I.S. » strategies for scaling-up Micro-irrigation Systems ?  - Integrated and Sustainable strategies for scaling-up MIS
4)       Lunch discussion on the best tools to use to continua the interactions

Afternoon : LP group
Final evaluation and discussion
From the LP diary « En la discusiòn de hoy espero poder haber algunos aportes para mejoros la ejcucion del proyecto SCAMPIS, el cual esta llevando muchas benuficios a personas pobres en los 3 Paises y no olvidar que el riego es un medio y no un fin » Rolando (Guatemala)
Thank you to all  the group
Cecilia & Anja

Follow us on facebook (http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/learningpath/) or write to c.ruberto@ifad.org   
More photos: Learning Path Workshop Photos 

Agriculture is the main source of livelihood of 80% of the 4.5 million people inhabiting the remote communities and villages of Imo State, a rural state in south-eastern Nigeria. However, agricultural extension services which should support farming have collapsed, due to the unavailability of input materials needed to support this service. The outcome is that smallholder farmers lack access to reliable market information and advanced farming techniques, and use outdated techniques that turn out small volumes of products. 

Today thanks to the efforts of Nnaemeka C. Ikegwuonu and FARM 98.0 Radio, the farmers have a precious resource. FARM 98.0 FM designs and broadcasts daily agricultural, environmental management and market information in the local Igbo language to 250,000 small farmer listeners living in 3 remote and isolated local government areas of Imo State. 

FARM 98.0 broadcasts 10 hours a day, sharing contemporary agricultural and environmental management techniques, daily market information, advertises farm products and imparts critical business skills. Smallholder farmers use the daily broadcast programme to decide what to produce, when to produce, how to produce and for whom to produce in order to boost their yields and income.

In this interview Ikegwuonu shares how and why he decided to set up this valuable service for smallholder farmers and tells us about his passion for agriculture.

On Wednesday 12 October, some of the participants of the Youth Conference - Agents of Change visited the pineapple agro-processing facilities of Dieu Donne Alladjodjo, located about 60 kilometres north of Cotonou. We had a rather eventful trip, as half-way to our destination, our convey had an accident.

Thank God, no one was seriously injured. We duly followed all UN security procedures, informed both IFAD and UN security officers. With their respective blessings - and as they say in this part of the world - all protocols observed -  we continued our trip to the world of pineapple processing!

Benin goes proud of its pineapples, as they are  deemed one of the best in the world. In 1998, the annual production was approximately 100 million tonnes. However, the planters were unable to exploit this gold mine because they did not have access to regional and international markets, nor in a position to improve the quality of their products.

This is why a decade or so ago, the pineapple planters got together to explore how they could exploit this great asset and increase their income, improve their livelihoods and provide a better life for their families and communities. As a result, they embarked on a successful processing journey.

Alladjodjo entered into processing business when was 19 years old.  Today he runs a successful business which gives employment to 307 people of which 80% are women and has a total annual income of CFA200 million. The plant is equipped with the “en norme” equipment meeting international standards, and has the capacity to process up to 80 tonnes of pineapple a day.

“We buy traditional and organic pineapples from individual farmers, farmer associations and cooperatives operating in Mono, Zou, Ouémé and Atlantique region”, explainedAlladjodjo. “When we embarked on this journey we realized that while the pineapple industry was a gold mine, however, we were faced with the challenge of having access to good inputs, thus being able to produce good quality final product.”

That is how they engaged with the IFAD-funded Rural Economic Growth Support Project which helped them get access to good inputs such as fertilizer and built their capacity to develop rural agro-based micro and small enterprises.

Today, Alladjodjo sells canned pineapple juice wholesale at local, national and regional level. "I sell 3000 boxes of pineapple juice for a total of CFA15,000,000", explains Alladjodjo,

This young man’s story inspired and flared the entrepreneur spirit of the young Africans, Latin Americans, Egyptian, Syrian and Yemeni participants in the group who saw Alladjodjo experience as  great import-export opportunity. It was amazing to see how business cards were exchanged and hear the questions and clarifications about import-export legal framework.

Ebtesam saw a new business opportunity for her grocery store and  Mohamed, our fashion designer, seriously started considering entering into pineapple import-export business.

What we witnessed on this hot and humid day in Allada was visionary entrepreneurs connecting with and learning from each other.  Definitely, this field trip is the beginning of many future global business opportunities.

Let’s hope next time you are in Yemen or Syria you'll be able to drink Alladjodjo’s pineapple juice and that let's hope that Alladjodjo's achievements inspire many more young entrepreneurs and help improve many more lives.

Acceso a Mercados - Lecciones, videos e innovaciones

Posted by Greg Benchwick Thursday, October 13, 2011 0 comments

Taller de Acceso a Mercados: Mesoamérica y Panamá, Un Mundo de Oportunidades
En el Taller de Acceso a Mercados: Mesoamérica y Panamá, Un Mundo de Oportunidades - el 21, 22 y 23 de Septiembre de 2011 en el Hotel La Ensenada, Tela, Honduras - se tuvo la participación de participantes de diferentes Instituciones y países: 4 participantes de México, 25 de Guatemala, 9 de El Salvador, 21 de Honduras, 8 de Nicaragua, 3 de Panamá, 4 de Roma, 6 de Argentina y 6 de otros países.

Lecciones e innovaciones

  • Dialogar y conocer los actuales retos y perspectivas del acceso a mercados con pequeños productores en territorios en pobreza en el contexto de América Latina.
  • Reflexionar sobre la necesidad de establecer alianzas público–privadas para poder encaminar procesos sostenibles de vinculación y acceso a mercados de las organizaciones de productores rurales apoyados por los programas FIDA.
  • Mejorar las habilidades técnicas respecto a los nuevos tópicos del desarrollo rural, comercial: innovación para el desarrollo de la empresarialidad rural; alianzas para el desarrollo en territorios rurales; calidad e inocuidad y certificaciones; inteligencia de mercados e innovación; capital de trabajo para la comercialización; y seguridad alimentaria y nutrición en el marco del desarrollo empresarial rural y equidad de género.
Acceso a mercados en Guatemala

Sin mercados, no hay dinero. Y sin dinero, no hay oportunidades. Organizaciones como el Fondo Internacional de Desarrollo Agrícola (FIDA) crean oportunidades para que los pequeños productores tengan acceso a mercados grandes, un importante paso en la lucha contra la pobreza rural. Con la intención de replicar el éxito de sus proyectos en Guatemala – en los que pequeños campesinos ya venden sus productos en mercados grandes con clientes como Wal-Mart, con incrementos en sus ingresos hasta de 50 por ciento en algunos casos –, el FIDA presentó un “Taller de Acceso a Mercados" en Tela, Honduras. En esta entrevista, Juan Santos, Presidente de la asociación AGRISEM, comparte su experiencia de acceso a mercados en Guatemala.

Oportunidades Ecológicas en México

En el noroeste semiárido de México hay una elevada incidencia de la pobreza rural provocada y agravada por las condiciones ambientales y la base limitada de recursos naturales. La pobreza rural en esta zona se debe a la falta de acceso a la tierra, la extrema fragmentación de las explotaciones, el deterioro de los recursos naturales y el limitado acceso a recursos productivos. El Proyecto de Desarrollo Sustentable para las Comunidades Rurales e Indígenas del Noroeste Semiárido trabajará con las comunidades rurales e indígenas más pobres y marginadas de los cuatro estados seleccionados para: 1. mejorar la conservación de los recursos naturales 2. garantizar un mayor control de las comunidades sobre sus bienes, incluida la tierra, la agrobiodiversidad y el entorno natural 3. aumentar la capacidad productiva de la tierra mediante el uso de tecnologías mejoradas de producción y conservación 4. mejorar los niveles de renta y de empleo mediante la promoción de microempresas rurales y de turismo basado en la naturaleza y el cobro por los servicios ambientales prestados 5. aumentar la participación de las comunidades en los procesos de desarrollo territorial, con especial atención a la participación de las mujeres y de los más jóvenes. En esta entrevista el Director de PRODERNOS, Carlos Edgar González Godoy, nos destaca los logros y desafíos del proyecto.

Posibilidades en Panamá

Ramón Isos Giono. Director Ejecutivo del Proyecto PARTICIPA en Panamá destaca los logros y desafíos del proyecto y como mejorar el acceso a mercados para los pequeños productores.

Governor Marcelo Déda Chagas meets with IFAD Vice-President to push project forward

A high-level Brazilian delegation met with International Fund For Agricultural Development (IFAD) Vice-President Yukiko Omura, IFAD’s Director of Latin America and the Caribbean Division Josefina Stubbs and other senior IFAD staff October 12 to hammer out details of the new US$37.8 million Small Producers Rural Business Project, better known in Brazil as Project Dom Tavora.

The Brazilian delegation included Sergipe Governor Marcelo Déda Chagas, Secretary of Agriculture and Agrarian Development José Macedo Sobral and the President and Director of the Agricultural Development Agency Jefferson Feitozza de Carvalho.

“This project looks to fight rural poverty in a sustainable way by helping businesses and small-scale producers to improve their productivity and technical capabilities, and access new markets and financial services,” said Iván Cossio, IFAD Country Program Manager for Brazil. “At the same time, we are looking to build the technical capacity within the vary agencies that will be implementing the project, thus ensuring the project’s long-term viability.”

During the visit, the governor gave a presentation to IFAD staff on the Brazil Without Extreme Poverty Program (Brasil Sem Miseria), underlining how the national program works in the state of Sergipe and how it could work in conjunction with new IFAD-funded projects in the region.

“Finding ways to effectively coordinate IFAD-funded programs with these massive government programs will be key to ensuring strong results on the ground and long-term sustainability for these initiatives,” Cossio said.

The Dom Tavora Project is slated to benefit some 32,000 poor rural families in 15 municipalities in the State of Sergipe. Approximately 12,000 families will receive direct support from the project while another 20,000 will benefit from the improved technical assistance offered by the implementing agency.

The IFAD Executive Board is expected to review the project this December. The project benefits from a US$16 million IFAD loan to the State of Sergipe, with the Government of Sergipe providing another US$12.6 million. Project beneficiaries will provide another US$9.2 million in financing.

“The Sergipe Project is especially innovative as its principal strategy is based in catalysing and stimulating growth for businesses run by small-scale producers. Given the right support, these small-scale producers are capable of creating efficient, sustainable and profitable businesses,” Cossio said. “And as we’ve seen throughout the world, treating agriculture as a business is one of the most effective means to reduce rural poverty.”
Photos: ©IFAD/Publifoto

Last week IFAD hosted the seminar “Making policy dialogue work for the rural poor - The experience of Latin America and the Caribbean”. Among the panellists were Mr Heladio Ramirez, Senator, Mexico and Ms Claudia Serrano, Executive Director, RIMISP.

Our social reporter Marieclaire Colaiacomo had the chance to ask them some questions about the definition of policy dialogue, and how to approach it. You can watch the interviews in Spanish here:

Young entrepreneurs from around the world have gathered in Cotonou, Benin to share knowledge and learn from each other’s experiences for a four-day event titled “Youth Entrepreneurs – Agents of Change.

Yesterday Canal 3, a private TV in Benin approached us and asked to interview Mohamed Beavougi, the director of West and Central Africa. We agreed to meet at the TV station at 7pm and to go on air live at 7:30pm.

We got there on time, met the journalist, got settled in the studio, did a test run and were all set to go. And three minutes before going on air, something does not work and a piece of equipment breaks!

The technician starts running around, goes out, comes back with some cables. It is now 7:29.... and the technician is still running around. What was most incredible is that no one panicked. It is now 7:32 and the journalist is casually chit chatting with Mohamed and says: “We have a technical problem, I am afraid we cannot go on air until we resolve the problem.”

I leave the studio and go to the adjacent room, where I find the technician literary inside the equipment. The room is dark, and I see the technicians using their cellphones as flash lights. I stood there in awe, looking at how these gentlemen solved the problem and fixed the broken equipment.

Twenty-three minutes later, we managed to go on air live. When the technician came back in the studio, he looked at us and said: “Ça c’est l’Afrique”.

I challenge all the high-tech and well-equipped TV studios around the world to solve the technical problems the way their African colleagues did!

And here is Mohamed’s interview.

P.S. Wonder what CNN's Michael Holmes has to say about this BackStory :)

There is growing recognition that indigenous peoples are affected by the economic, social and environmental impact of climate change and that their traditional knowledge may be critical for effective adaptation and mitigation strategies.

Mosses Ndiyaine from Tanzania, who was both at last month's Share Fair and now in Cotonou for the Young People Conference- Agents of Change, tells us how the Maasai use indigenous knowledge and astronomy to predict rainfall and adapt to climate change.