IFAD in Egypt
Egypt is IFAD's largest recipient of financial assistance in the Near East and North Africa, and was one of the first countries in the world to receive IFAD financing. The organization has committed almost US$323 million in loans to Egypt since 1981 to support agricultural development and reduce rural poverty, benefiting about 1.1 million poor rural households.
In total, IFAD has invested in 11 agricultural development programmes and projects designed in collaboration with smallholders, the government and other partners in Egypt. Seven of the projects have been completed, and four are ongoing. These investment support activities are aimed at improving the incomes and living conditions of small-scale farmers and their communities, and influencing public policy on land tenure and other land settlement systems.
Two of IFAD's ongoing projects support Egypt's considerable investments in reclaiming large areas of desert – known as newlands – for distribution to poor and disadvantaged rural people. These projects provide post-settlement and agricultural support services that are crucial to the establishment of viable farming. Their main objectives are to:
- Adapt technologies from Egypt's agricultural research in the oldlands of the Nile Valley and Delta to conditions in the newlands
- Improve the efficiency of water use and the sustainability of irrigation systems
- Increase attention given to off-farm enterprises
- Facilitate the provision of financial services to small-scale farmers in the newlands
- Support marketing and agro-processing
In Upper Egypt, IFAD's operations also continue to promote improved production, participatory approaches to rural infrastructure and decentralization. Through technical assistance grants with a focus on gender, IFAD has fostered women's empowerment as well. Among other things, grant-supported activities have made it easier for women to obtain the identity cards that allow them to gain access to services and to vote.
The two most recently implemented IFAD projects in Egypt promote market enhancements linking small-scale producers to exporters and processors, and ensure efficient use of water resources through on-farm irrigation in the oldlands.
In addition, IFAD projects are testing contractual farming, in which smallholders produce non-traditional, high-value horticultural crops for export. And they are supporting microfinance through community development associations – thereby nurturing small and medium enterprises and empowering rural poor people to create sustained employment.