New York, NY (BBN) – The United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) announced on Monday that it has approved almost US$250 million in loans and grants to support one dozen initiatives aimed at fighting poverty in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

In West and Central Africa, the agency will make nearly $30 million in loans and $9 million in grants available, according to a UN press statement.

In Cameroon, smallholder farms without access to financial services will receive a boost, while in the Republic of Congo, the IFAD will support a project targeting 250 villages and 20,000 households to help planters there increase their harvests.

Some 200,000 farmers in northern Mozambique will benefit from a 7-year scheme seeking to increase the profitability of their crops through basic business training and direct counseling.

Meanwhile in Albania, the IFAD-backed “Mountain to Markets Program” seeks to augment the incomes of those living in mountainous areas, the poorest in the European nation.

Rwanda, Senegal, Madagascar, Moldova, Sudan, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua will also receive grants or loans from the agency.

Since its creation three decades ago, IFAD has invested over $10 billion in low-interest loans and grants to help nearly half a billion poor rural people enhance their incomes.

BBN/SI/SS/AD-16September08-4:10 PM