The Republic of Congo has launched a “farming village” project to boost food self-sufficiency, with the first one inaugurated in Nkouo, about 80km north of Brazzaville, the capital, on 8 October. It houses 40 families from different regions of the country.
"Forty hen-houses, a warehouse, a sorting centre and refrigerated storage space have been made available. Each family received 792 laying hens and 2ha for cultivation,” said project director Jean-Jacques Bouya.
According to the Minister of Agriculture, Rigobert Maboundou, produce will be sold by the state and a portion of the revenue returned to the farmers.
Set up by Société congolaise de modernisation (Socomod), a subsidiary of an Israeli company L.R. Groups, the project is funded entirely by the Congolese government to the tune of US$26 million.
"Nkouo will produce two million kilogrammes of cassava per year… which will, undoubtedly, contribute to food self-sufficiency in Brazzaville," said the director of Socomod, Etrog Yehushua.
“Our goal is to boost food self-sufficiency and hold down imports,” said Maboundou.
"Besides the new agricultural villages there are other initiatives: restocking of livestock, mechanization of agriculture and distribution of improved seeds, " he added.
"Conditions here are suitable for large-scale agriculture: we have water, electricity and a school for our children," Gaetan Charlly Lengou, 32, one of the new farmers, told IRIN.
According to a 2010 report by the International Food Policy Research Institute, 21 percent of people are undernourished and 11.8 percent of children are underweight in Congo. In addition, the UN Children's Fund says more than a quarter of deaths among children under five are attributable to malnutrition.
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