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EA could benefit from ifad’s $600m agric fund

ARUSHA, TANZANIA-It is time for the five partner states of the East African Community (EAC) including the other 16 countries that are member states of the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) to apply for funds to fill finding gaps in the agriculture ministries, an official has announced.
"We have already developed a budget of $600m for the next three years 2010-2012 through which member states of the IFAD can now apply to fill up funding gaps in the ministries of agriculture mainly for projects intended to support livelihoods of people in rural areas," said the fund's director for East, West and Southern Africa Ides v.d. Does de Willebois.
"All member states of the fund can apply and we allocate funds according to the population and the country's performance in the utilization of funds previously as some of the poorly performing countries are having their allocations reduced," he told East African Business Week in an interview on November 14, in Arusha, Tanzania.
This was after the opening of a five day regional implementation workshop for IFAD supported projects and programmes in East and Southern Africa at the Arusha International Conference centre (AICC) in Arusha, Tanzania.
The workshop that is joined by the South Sudan as a new member is aimed at sharing experiences on hindrances and progress by the heads of the funds projects and programmes from each country and drawing a way forward.   
Tanzania's permanent secretary in the food security and cooperatives ministry Mohammed Saidi Muya said that his government has already drawn up an agriculture investment plan which is aimed at implementing seven priority programmes.
These include irrigation development whereby Tanzania has got 44m hectares of irrigable land but less than one million hectares are under irrigation.
"The other priority is production and commercialisation of agriculture targeting to involve the private sector in agricultural; production which has hitherto been a public but not a private sector concern," he said adding that this however calls for a minimum of six percent budget support which is still at between 6-7%.
He said the third priority is rural infrastructure that includes development of markets and trade and the forth being food and nutritional levels and fifth is disaster management and climate change mitigation.
"We have already budgeted for the investment plan to cost $5.304bn but we have got a funding gap of $2.876bn to which we expect IFAD to provide us with support," he said.
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