Caroline Bidault is the Project Officer in the IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) operations department. On theeve of the third and final Steering Committee of the Regional Agroecology andClimate Change Initiative (IRACC), we interviewed her to find out more about the origin of this initiative, its objectives, its achievements and its extensions.
How many years has the IFAD beenworking in the Indian Ocean, and on what kinds of projects?
The IFAD has been working for more than 30years in the Indian Ocean (Comoros, Mauritius, Madagascar and Tanzania), on 23 ongoing or finished projects (including 4 currently active in Madagascar, 1 in Comoros and1 in Mauritius) and two upcoming projects at a cost of $??262.3 million. TheIFAD is currently developing a new project in the Seychelles, 20 years after the previous one in there. It also focuses on rural development and is now becoming more regional, with the opening of an office in Madagascar, which, from 2013, will be responsible for Madagascar, Mauritius, the Seychelles and the Comoros.
What are the origins of theIRACC project? What are the main objectives and key stakeholders?
There are many agroecological similarities between the Indian Ocean islands, including rainfall, geology, population density and reduction of agricultural land, as well as the need to face up to climate change. The IFAD developed the IRACC project, in partnership with the Indian Ocean Commission and CIRAD, with funding from the European Union. The initiative aims to help small farms adaptto climate change in the Indian Ocean, in order to improve the income andliving conditions of farming families. This will be achieved through sharing information and promoting new ecological techniques (conservation agriculture) on family farms and village land in order to guarantee higher incomes. This initiative promotes agroecology on a national level and encourages the various partners to prioritize ecological techniques.Through new information networks and training courses, farmers will learn the importance of ecological practices on food security and income in the short andlong term. Family farms will all be entitled to technical support. Public extension services, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and professional organizations will also be involved.
Where is the project at? What will be next?
The project is now nearing its end. However, in June 2012 an extension of at least 3 months was recommended. Funding will therefore end on 31 December 2012 and the project will wind down by June 2013. Nevertheless, other ongoing IFAD projects, stakeholders and members of the group will continue to promote the techniques. Activities also continue through the Adaptation for Smallholders Agriculture Program (ASAP). Moreover, the IFAD is working withthe IOC to find funding for regionalization in the Indian Ocean to promote marketing and agroecology. The IFAD and the IOC hope to develop an IOC agricultural platform which will improve food security and benefit all in years to come.