More than 100,000 poor Brazilians are expected to benefit from a United Nations-backed development and income-generating project in the semi-arid northeastern region of Latin America’s largest and most populous country.
The US$ 47 million Northeast Rural Family Enterprise Development Support Project will be partly financed by a US$ 23 million loan from the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) under an agreement signed last week at the Rome headquarters of the agency, which is dedicated to eradicating rural poverty in developing countries.
The Brazilian Ministry of Agrarian Development will contribute US$ 22 million to the program while US$ 2 million is to be invested directly by project participants.
Some 20,000 poor people will participate directly in the project to create and consolidate family-owned rural enterprises, with 100,000 people expected to benefit as a result of increased incomes, improved living conditions and multiplying effects within the regional economy.
The Northeast is home to the largest concentration of poor rural people in Brazil, a country with a total population of some 188 million. The project will initially be implemented in the Xingó area and help poor families involved with the development of small agro-industries and other rural enterprises to enhance their business skills and increase their incomes.
It offers an alternative to many poor rural people who do not have access to enough land or have lost their farming jobs due to mechanization or diversification in production, IFAD Country Program Manager for Brazil, Jean-Jacques Gariglio, said.
Some have already moved on and started their own small rural business, but in many cases they need technical assistance or access to credit to strengthen their enterprises or to create new ones that could lift them out of poverty. The project will work to strengthen organizations of rural entrepreneurs and help them to identify and promote new business opportunities.
There are already some 600,000 rural small enterprises and micro-enterprises, both formal and informal, in the Northeast, most of them the result of women’s initiatives, including food products and textile handicrafts. With this loan, IFAD will have provided funds for six projects in Brazil since 1980, totaling about US$ 141 million.