Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), will meet Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, and other officials of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, to discuss how investment in agriculture can ensure food and nutrition security and create jobs for rural people, particularly women and youth.
In Mauritania, 41 per cent of the population lives in rural areas, and half depend on agriculture for their income. Farming generates 25 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). Small farms are thus vital for the country’s food security as well as its economy. During an official visit to the country on 9-11 April, Houngbo will meet with the Mauritanian President and Prime Minister, Yahya Ould Hademine. In addition, a joint working meeting with the Minister of Economy and Finance, the Minister of Agriculture, the Minister of Livestock and the Minister of Environment will focus on the role of smallholder farmers in ensuring food security in Mauritania, the challenge of climate change, and the opportunities agriculture can offer to young people in rural areas.
Investing in a new generation of smallholder farmers is essential. Of Mauritania’s 4 million people, 40 per cent are under 15 years of age, 60 per cent are under 25 and only 5 per cent are over 60. Half of the population derives their livelihoods from raising crops and livestock and fishing. Although the country is self-sufficient in red meat and fish, it imports 60 per cent of other staple foodstuffs, particularly rice, vegetables, sugar and cooking oil.
IFAD and the government of Mauritania are working together to improve food security and nutrition, increase the incomes of poor rural households, create jobs and reduce the country’s dependence on food imports. Since 1980, IFAD has financed 14 projects and programmes in Mauritania for a total of $342.3 million, including $136.2 million from IFAD’s own resources, directly benefitting nearly 190,470 Mauritanian rural households.
Houngbo will deliver a keynote address at the opening session of the Regional Implementation Forum organized in Nouakchott by the West and Central Africa Division of IFAD. Later, he will join Lemina Mint El Ghotob Ould Moma, Minister of Agriculture, in Kiffa to meet with rural people benefiting from an IFAD-supported Poverty Reduction Project in Aftout South and Karakoro – Phase II designed to help build, an economic and social fabric based on sustainable natural resource management that is inclusive of poor rural households, particularly women and young people. Because of its achievements in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment, this project was a recipient of a 2017 IFAD Gender Award.