Mauritania - Rural Poor Stimulus Facility (RPSF) - June 2022
Zeinabou Mint Mohamed Mahmoud is a small-holder farmer in the town of Gouraye in southwestern Mauritania’s semi-arid Guidimaka Region. Agriculture is central to the economy of Gouraye, like almost all the municipalities in the region. Small producers encounter obstacles to their development, in particular climatic conditions or the lack of logistical means. IFAD’s Rural Poor Stimulus Facility (RPSF) helped reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their farming activities and safeguarded their livelihoods, making sure that weaker groups like youth, women and persons with disabilities were included.
The RPSF was implemented through the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources, Communal Equipment and the Organization of Rural Producers Project (PROGRES) during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. It helped small-scale producers improve their agricultural productivity by ensuring quick access to inputs, such as certified climate-resilient seeds and farming equipment, that were impossible to get because of COVID-related lockdowns and movement restrictions.
Before the pandemic, smallholders could farm only during the rainy winter period, September to February or March, then migrated to the capital Nouakchott, or even further to Senegal or Mali for the rest of the year. But COVID lockdowns brought travelling to a halt, resulting in an extraordinary loss of income. Additional funds granted through the RPSF supplemented the PROGRES project by providing water towers, bigger pipes and other equipment that make it possible for them to irrigate and cultivate their vegetable crops throughout the year. Now they have doubled their farming season and are proud to show their production of onions, eggplant, carrots, watermelon and other produce even during the dry summer months.
With the project’s support, community groups were formed to help organize market connections and transport. Acting in a group, farmers were in a stronger position when negotiating prices. They also learned how to produce their own high-quality seeds instead of buying them, which they will be using for the next cultivation season. This will help them to become more resilient against future shocks.
“I was born here in Gouraye and agriculture is the only thing I know. We used to farm our land only during the winter. Now, with the help and support of the RPSF and PROGRES we have become very productive.”
PROGRES aims to improve food security and nutrition, increase the incomes of poor rural households, create jobs and reduce the country's dependence on food imports. Activities target poor rural households with a special focus on women and young people. The people in the region have struggled for years to stop the desert from taking over arable land. Climate change is making things worse. IFAD is working with communities to create a Great Green Wall to hold back the Sahara Desert.
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