IITA welcomes the official launch of new project in Great Lakes
The Integrated Project for Agricultural Growth in the Great Lakes (PICAGL) was officially launched on 7 May, in Kinshasa. Official launch ceremonies were led by His Excellency the National Minister of Finance, Mr. Henri Yav Mulang, with the National Minister of Agriculture.
Also taking part in the event were World Bank experts appointed in DRC, various national and provincial personalities, including both governors of the provinces targeted by the project (namely South-Kivu and Tanganyika), as well as their respective provincial ministers in charge of agriculture. “The government calls on all of the stakeholders to fully engage and support project-related tasks to be carried out by its partners,” stated Minister Mulang, in his address to the many attending dignitaries.
It’s worth recalling that the project, originally focusing on the Growth ‘Axles’ in South-Kivu, started as early as April 2010. Subsequently, several identification and assessment missions were carried out in collaboration with World Bank experts and the DRC Government, leading to the development of the project’s first concept note. IITA had been actively involved in the planning and conduct of the said missions, going as far as providing much of the logistical requirements. The concept note was endorsed in January 2015 as a regional project and approved in favor of DRC on 21 June 2016 by the World Bank Board.
Meant to run for a 5-year period (from 2016 to 2021), PICAGL is a DRC Government-led and World Bank-funded project, amounting to US$150 million and a $2.7 million additional donation granted by the Japanese Government. The project’s interventions target South-Kivu and Tanganyika provinces, specifically emphasizing the Bukavu-Uvira-Fizi-Kalemie corridor, to reach 200,000 households as direct beneficiaries. Given its predominantly development-oriented pattern, the Project aims to increase agricultural productivity and market opportunities across targeted areas in the DRC, to boost regional integration in the agricultural sector, and to provide a timely and effective response to arising crises or emergency.
To achieve the above objective, the project will focus on three agricultural value chains of cassava, rice, and livestock-cum-dairy, selected during various field assessment missions, with a cross-cutting component pertaining to infrastructure. With regard to the implementation of the planned tasks, the project is split into four components, namely: Boosting the Productivity of Agricultural Value Chains, Support for the Development of Agro-Industrial Parks’, Regional Integration, and Backstopping Support Services and Project Management. In line with these, four institutions were selected as key collaborators or key partners in the project: IITA for cassava value chain, Vétérinaires Sans Frontières-Belgium (VSF-B) for ‘livestock cum dairy’ value chain, VECO for rice value chain, and United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) for infrastructure.
With the National Institute for Studies and Agricultural Research (INERA), IITA stands as the key technical partner for this project, making it the hub for other centers of CGIAR that will be involved in PICAGL. These centers include International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) for agricultural policies, International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and HarvestPlus for nutritional matters, AfricaRice for Rice, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) for livestock, and World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) for natural resource management.
In his keynote address during the launching ceremony, the Project’s National Coordinator, Mr Kibangula Alfred, said “The launch of the Project today is a source of joy for all of us and of hope for the beneficiaries, as developing the agricultural sector will contribute to economic recovery and diversification in the DRC,” he said.