Tunisia: Rural youth, women to get UN loan
New York, Feb 14 : The United Nations agency tasked with supporting agricultural projects in developing countries is boosting economic opportunities for rural youth and women in Tunisia through a programme that gives loans and grants to farmers and local communities.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) announced that it would extend a loan and grant of $11.4 million to finance the second phase of the Agropastoral Development and Local Initiatives Promotion Programme.
The programme "will intensify investment in infrastructure focusing on natural resource management and irrigation to improve agricultural productivity," IFAD said in a press release.
The agriculture sector makes up 8 per cent of Tunisia's gross domestic product and provides employment to 18.3 per cent of the national labour force, according to figures cited.
"In addition, the programme will promote local economic initiatives by providing assistance and resources in the form of access to microcredit, knowledge and training opportunities," IFAD added.
Some 13,200 households in the southern province of Tataouine and the central desert area of Kebili are expected to benefit.
In addition to funding from IFAD, the programme is co-financed by the Spanish Food Security Co-Financing Facility Trust Fund to Tunisia and by the projects' beneficiaries.
The financing agreement was signed on Wednesday by Naceur Mestiri, Ambassador of Tunisia in Italy, and Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD.
Also on Wednesday, the Governing Council, the highest decision-making body of IFAD, appointed Mr. Nwanze by acclamation to a second term to continue to lead the rural poverty agency for another four years.
In his address to the Council, Mr. Nwanze made the case for advancing rural economic development by focusing the Fund's work on rural youth, resilience to climate change, and fragile states in the coming year.