India today signed a USD 200 million loan agreement with World Bank to facilitate investment in the agricultural sector and increase productivity in Assam, benefiting over 5 lakh farm households.
The loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a 7-year grace period, and a maturity of 16.5 years.
“The project will support the Government of Assam to facilitate agri-business investments, increase agriculture productivity and market access, and enable small farm holders produce crops that are resilient to recurrent floods or droughts in the state,” the finance ministry said in a statement.
It will be implemented in over 16 districts of Assam and over 5 lakh farming households will directly benefit from the project, the release said.
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“At least 30 percent women are expected to participate in project activities. Specific focus will be given to women- led enterprises and their participation in the decision-making process of farmer producer organisations,” the ministry said.
Speaking on the occasion, Hisham Abdo, Operations Manager, World Bank, said that Assam aims to double farm income in the state and transform the agricultural sector into a stable source of growth and economic development.
He said this project will serve as the nucleus to fulfill the State’s much larger vision of an agriculture-based rural transformation.
Another key component of the project will be to promote market-led production that can deal with the vagaries of climate change.
“Assam’s agriculture sector is highly vulnerable to climate variability and the state experiences recurrent floods and droughts,” the release said.
Currently, more than 50 percent of the paddy growing areas are prone to flooding, submergence and drought.
“A market-led production system will take advantage of the rapidly changing market, introduce crops that are resilient to climate change, increase production and manage risks for farmers,” the ministry said.
Manivannan Pathy, Senior Agricultural Specialist and World Bank’s Team Leader for the project said that the value addition and market led production systems supported through the project are expected to play a vital role in enhancing the competitiveness of the agriculture sector.