An innovative initiative was launched in mi-2023 to combat food insecurity and enhance agricultural capacity of family farmers in the Republic of Congo.
“Small producers, the pillars of our rural economy, deserve our support,” said Mr. Paul Valentin, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries of Republic of Congo. “This project aims to remove the barriers to their limited market access, promoting sustainable agriculture that respects the environment and our agricultural heritage.”
The initiative –aligned with the Republic of Congo’s National Development Plan 2022-2026 – is a partnership between the Republic of Congo, Brazil, and the World Food Programme (WFP). It is supported by the India, Brazil, and South Africa Facility for Poverty and Hunger Alleviation (IBSA Fund).
In the Republic of Congo, chronic malnutrition is a pressing concern, particularly among children under the age of five, of whom 19.6% are affected. This alarming figure is compounded by the fact that domestic food production meets only 30% of the country’s needs, forcing heavy reliance on food imports.
To address these challenges, the IBSA-Fund and WFP, in collaboration with the Republic of Congo launched a project, titled “Enhancing family farmers’ access to local markets in the Republic of Congo through South-South Cooperation”. The project aims to address the critical issue of food insecurity, which currently affects 33.3% of households in the Republic of Congo.
The initiative targets smallholder farmers, who face numerous challenges, including limited access to markets, especially in remote areas, and gender inequalities in land access. Institutional capacity gaps at both policy and technical levels have been identified, including poor rural infrastructure, and insufficient agricultural modernization.
By improving farmers’ access to local markets and enhancing school children’s access to diverse and nutritious diets, the project aims to contribute to self-sustained food and nutrition security.
The project will focus on planning and implementing strategies to strengthen institutional capacities through training programs and on-the-job coaching, supported by Brazilian experts and IBSA partners.
The project also focuses on technical capacity building for farmer associations and schools, through the delivery of equipment and field demonstrations. The goal is to enhance the capacities of policy makers and technical staff in relevant ministries, improved food security and nutritional status of smallholder farmers, and increased capacity of schools in purchasing, storing, and preparing nutritious, locally produced food.
In the inaugural meeting of the project’s steering committee, held on December 19, 2023, in Brazzaville, key stakeholders, including the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries, Mr. Paul Valentin Ngobo, and Brazilian Ambassador Renato Soares Menezes, highlighted the urgency of addressing the pressing issues of food insecurity and malnutrition, leveraging the expertise and innovations available through South-South cooperation.