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Greening Congo – An example from the FAO

Mai 19, 2011
Kinshasa (C) Irene2005

Kinshasa (C) Irene2005

Urban and peri-urban agriculture is one of the main areas of interest of the FAO (the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). One of the first countries they started their program in was the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The project was started in 2000 and implemented in the two biggest cities of the country: Lubumbashi and Kinshasa.

A study conducted by the FAO revealed several constraints for urban agriculture in the DRC.  The sector lacks the support from the local authorities and according policies are not in place. For farmers planting on deserted plots the insecurity of land tenure is another problem undermining the expansion of the urban agricultural activities. In many urban areas, access to water or adequate irrigation can not be taken for granted. In addition, due to lack of knowledge of necessary inputs such as fertilizer and seed, the yields of urban agriculture are relatively low and the applied methods could still be improved from an environmental perspective. Marketing opportunities are often missing, especially as the farmers are often unorganized and can therefore be taken advantage of by merchants and the access to financial capital is limited or too expensive for the small-scale operations of the single farmer.

The first step taken to improve the situation was to invest in the irrigation infrastructure. The growers are trained to maintain the infrastructure and the improvements allow them to expand their operations. Further, the prerequisites for a micro-finance scheme were developed and the farmers were educated on financial management and the loans allowed them to buy better seeds and tools. Next, covered nurseries that enable the farmers to grow seedlings during the rainy season and protected them from the cold were introduced. As planned, the incomes of the participants increased with the increased productivity of their gardens.

The second phase of the project began in 2004 and it was extended to 3 more cities. A main focus was to secure the plots through lease agreements with the authorities and the growers were encouraged to test new crops and cultivation techniques. Training and assistance to the growers was provided by farmer field schools set up during the project and to increase the effectiveness of the micro-credit scheme practical training on financial issues such as book-keeping were provided as well.

The focus of the third stage was on strengthening the demand by increasing the consumers confidence in the locally grown products. In addition capacity building for local authorities was fostered to transfer the project to other cities in the country.

In July 2010 the project was assisting 16.100 vegetable growers directly with a total area of 2.000 ha. In Lubumbashi the production has increased from 2.250 tons to about 60.000 tons. At the same time organic fertilizers and biopesticides substitute chemical fertilizer and synthetic pesticides more and more and the income of the growers has significantly increased and they are now able to save money for other purposes (e.g. education).

Please find a short presentation of the project below:

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