2014, The International Year of Family Farming, is also the halfway point of Argentina’s robust Inclusive Rural Development Program (PRODERI). The six-year (2011-2017) US$150 million initiative doubles the International Fund for Agricultural Development’s Argentinian investment total from 1984-2011. Project objectives, constructed by IFAD with local input, are to increase diversification of family farm production, support family farmer entrance into accessible markets and increase overall income and employment opportunities for young and female Argentinian farmers. By helping rural farmers gain access to expansive markets, PRODERI aims to benefit 150,000 people from Catamarca, Jujuy, La Rioja, Salta, Santiago del Estero, and Tucuman provinces. Paolo Silveri, IFAD’s Argentina program director, reports that at least 30 percent of the program beneficiaries will be women.
PRODERI is, one, a vehicle for investment and market access and, two, it strengthens the infrastructure for technology transfers. Part of the program mandate includes the creation of two sustainment funds; one to purport market access and social infrastructure and another for strengthening entrepreneurial capacities of family farmers. Included in the second fund is training and establishment of contractual relations to implement proven, local, best practices. Both funds will help to address the current gap in competition between export-focused agribusiness and subsistence-focused family farmers.
Argentina is Latin America’s third largest producer and second largest exporter of agricultural products, with only a fraction of the export percentage coming from family-operated farms—218,868 of 251,116 Argentinian farms are family-owned, or 87 percent, although family farms occupy only 13 percent of the country’s farmland.
Prior to the PRODERI, investment in Argentinian rural agro-business had been noteworthy both from external sources and internal finance. IFAD alone funds the Argentinian North Western Rural Development Project, the Patagonia Rural Development Project and the Rural Areas Development Project (PRODEAR). Implementation of PRODEAR has resulted in income increases around 35 percent (with particular spikes of 71 percent and 73 percent in Argentina’s Misiones and Corrientes respectively). The Rural Development and Family Farming Secretariat and the Office of the Undersecretary for Family Farming are both Argentinian government institutions directed toward assisting family farmers. The interest in supporting Argentinian family farmers, outside of Argentina’s borders and within, is clear. IFAD’s substantial PRODERI investment proves not only their commitment to supporting family farmers but also how difficult it is for family farmers to compete with leading agro-business companies focused on exporting. Josefina Stubbs, Director of IFAD’s Latin America and the Caribbean Division, said of the investment, “In a country like Argentina, it’s important that we scale-up our operations to meet the specific needs of family farmers in a large emerging economy.” It has been well proven that family farmer-to-markets integration often requires an investment scaled to the size of the market and competition.
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