Rehabilitation of the Agricultural and Rural Sector in the Democratic Republic of Congo
The economic crisis of the 1980s, exacerbated by the armed conflicts of the 1990s in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has resulted in a drop in farmer assistance, desertion of farms and lack of maintenance of rural roads. This situation has specifically led to decreased productivity, difficulties in the supply of farm inputs and equipment, and increased inaccessibility to production areas, thus giving rise to food insecurity.
To address these problems, the DRC Government, with the support of the African Development Bank (ADB), initiated the Agricultural and Rural Sector Rehabilitation Project (PRESAR) in the Provinces of Katanga, Eastern Kasai and Western Kasai. In December 2005, PRESAR received an ADF grant of UA 35 million (USD 54.3 million).
Scheduled for a six-year implementation period, the project has an overall objective to contribute to food security and poverty reduction in rural areas. This has been achieved through capacity building for production support services, modernization of working tools with the promotion of animal traction, dissemination of improved seeds, rehabilitation of production and marketing infrastructures, and promotion of grassroots community structures.
Following five years of implementation, PRESAR has achieved significant results which can be summarized as follows:
- Over 2,100 officials trained in various disciplines.
- Six craft workshops expanded and equipped.
- 125 craftsmen trained in carpentry and mechanical tools for the production of tillage, coupling and household crafts.
- 114 ministry offices and five laboratories of the National Institute of Agronomic Studies and Research (INERA) and the National Seeds Service (SENASEM) rehabilitated and equipped.
- Six head offices of micro-finance institutions (MFIs) and 17 branches rehabilitated and equipped.
- 25 sales points rehabilitated and equipped for veterinary products.
- 188 yoke of demonstration oxen supplied, 188 masters trained, 1,840 yoke of oxen supplied for farmers, 3,680 independent relay farmers trained, 125 heifers distributed to associations for the sustained use of animal traction, over 28,000 ha cultivated by animal traction, and 17 chutes with paddocks constructed.
- 20,300 tons of improved food crop seeds, with agricultural multipliers, produced and distributed.
- 482 km of rural roads rehabilitated, and 14 bridges and box culverts constructed.
- 181 drinking water sources and more than 400 hectares of market gardens created following the carrying out of water retention and irrigation schemes.
- Small-scale livestock schemes promoted.
The various training exercises have improved the technical capacity of project staff and officers as well as the various public and private partner services, particularly in data processing, procurement, organization of labour-intensive work, sensitization of farmers and promotion of agricultural production techniques.
The use of animal traction and promotion of agricultural production techniques have led to a significant increase in farmed areas. Agricultural production has also surged following the doubling of the average yields for food crops (maize, beans, peanuts and rice).
The increased agricultural production has boosted the farmers' income, resulting in an improved quality of housing, the acquisition of agricultural vehicles and tractors by farmers, the extension of farmlands for individual producers and associations that received support to promote their professional capacity.
The rehabilitation of rural roads has helped to open up production areas, reduce travel time significantly and enable access to the production areas for all types of vehicles ranging from cars to heavy duty trucks. Markets along the rehabilitated roads have been developed and there has been a gradual beginning of urban exodus.
Thanks to the water schemes, a population of 157,000 inhabitants has regular access to drinking water and is protected against water-borne diseases. Downstream of these water sources, about 2,640 households are engaged in income generating activities (market gardening, off-season maize cropping, fishing, livestock breeding, etc.) based on the water retention facilities.
Women, who represent over 60 percent of the beneficiaries of this project, have thus been able to reduce their daily water supply duties and to better use the time saved for other activities such as schooling, farming, training, educating the children, etc.