The President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Gilbert F. Houngbo, will travel to the Republic of Mali and meet with President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta and other high-ranking officials to discuss investments to provide employment opportunities for rural youth, improve food and nutrition security, and reduce poverty.
Recognizing the significant contribution of the agriculture sector to the Malian economy, IFAD has been providing investment to support the government’s strategies to modernize agriculture and transform rural areas.
The visit will take place from 1 to 3 July and will focus on the role of smallholder farmers in ensuring food security in Mali, the challenges posed by climate change, the opportunities agriculture can offer to rural youth and the need for greater investment to transform agriculture into a highly productive and competitive sector.
In Mali, agriculture is not only the key driver of food production but employment creation. It contributes up to 38 per cent of GDP and employs 80 per cent of the workforce. Young Malians also represent a huge opportunity to boost and modernize agriculture and rural enterprises. IFAD will continue to support the government’s strategies for agricultural development and rural transformation for the benefit of poor smallholder farmers, in particular women and young people.
In addition to the Malian President, Houngbo will meet with the Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance, Boubou Cissé, the Minister of Agriculture, Moulaye Ahmed Boubacar, and the Minister of Employment, Jean Claude Sidibé.
Houngbo will also see IFAD investments in action in the IFAD-supported Rural Youth Vocational Training, Employment and Entrepreneurship Support Project (FIER). He will meet with project participants to see first-hand how their lives have been impacted.
With a total cost of about US$43.6 million, FIER targets young men and women living in rural areas and aims at empowering them by facilitating their access to economic and employment opportunities in the agriculture sector. FIER is a clear response to government concerns about youth employment. The project supports youth vocational training and facilitates the financing of income-generating agricultural activities initiated by young rural entrepreneurs. Over the lifetime of the project, 100,000 rural young people will benefit from vocational training, some 15,000 incoming-generating activities initiated by young rural entrepreneurs aged 18-40 will be created and funded, and 5,000 young people living in rural areas will access employment opportunities.
Since 1982, IFAD has financed 15 rural development programmes and projects in the Republic of Mali for a total cost of $692.4 million, with an IFAD investment of $302.1 million, directly benefiting more than 516,000 rural households.