PARSAR Aims to Strengthen Food Security and Cut Poverty in the DRC
The agricultural and rural sector in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has significant growth margins and occupies a prominent place in the economy. However, the dilapidation of rural infrastructure and poor governmental support services is contributing to a significant decline in productivity.
Also, long-term conflict has created alarming levels of poverty and food insecurity. The food deficit is estimated at more than 30 percent and poverty is affecting 60 percent of the population.
The DRC has requested its partners, including the African Development Bank, for help in remedying the situation. Accordingly, the Agricultural and Rural Sector Rehabilitation Support Project (PARSAR) was identified for the Bandundu and Bas-Congo provinces, costing a total of UA 28.01 million, or the equivalent of USD 42.3 million, which was approved on 19 May 2004.
The overall project objective is to strengthen food security and contribute to reducing rural poverty through the stimulation of agricultural production in the Bandundu and Bas-Congo provinces, capacity building as well as the rehabilitation of socio-economic infrastructure, and the organization of basic community structures.
Upon project completion by the end of March 2012, the main achievements have been:
Intervention capacity building for partner organizations and ministries responsible for agriculture and rural development:
- Five buildings of the ministries involved rehabilitated and 22 local demonstration premises built; this infrastructure will help improve the working conditions of some 4,000 staff members and members of village seed organizations (VSO).
- More than 2,500 persons, including 40 percent of women received training and retraining provided to executives and technical staff of the ministries involved and project beneficiaries, producers, management committees and farmer organizations.
Support for agricultural production:
- 27 VSOs involving 768 grassroots farmer organizations (GFO) established and supervised, with 22,829 members (56 percent of which were women), that is, a total population of 570,000 persons directly affected by the project.
- Controlled and certified seed production reached 1,213 basic tons, triple the project objective of 395 tons. VSOs are gradually taking ownership of the seed production technology.
- Food production induced by improved seeds is estimated at three million tons, relative to the forecast of one million tons. This effort was also followed by the dissemination of various technological packages.
- The popularization of animal traction, distribution of agricultural products processing equipment for demonstration purposes (sheller, polisher, mills, grater, combine, gin) and revitalization of the rural microfinance component.
Rural Infrastructure :
- 1,020 km of rural roads and 660 ml of structures linking production areas to marketing centers constructed.
- 160 drinking water sources developed.
- 80 communal latrines built.
- 20 markets and 35 warehouses built.
- To ensure sustainability of this infrastructure, PARSAR set up and trained management committees.
At project end, its achievements have had several significant effects. Associations and management committees realized the benefits of people grouping themselves around certain income-generating activities or the management of certain utilities.
Production areas have been made more accessible following the rehabilitation of rural roads. Travel time has been cut by more than half, and the tracks are receiving more traffic, especially food crop carriers and traders whose number has doubled. The cost of transporting goods and persons has been reduced by at least 20 percent and sometimes by more than 50 percent on some roads. The food products marketed in some markets have risen by about 100 tons per market day.
The momentum created around various PARSAR activities (seed production, agricultural produce processing units, markets, warehouses, roads, water sources, etc.) resulted in:
- An improvement in the average income of farmers and women traders, up by 30 percent and 70 percent respectively
- The creation of 1,134 permanent jobs and about two million days of work.
- The development of marketing for new processed products.
- Regular supply of drinking water for an average population of 84,500 inhabitants (12,630 households) and protection against water-borne diseases.