The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved a $41 million program to improve food security and help farmers in Panama. The initiative aims to help farmers increase profitability while ensuring that their farms are more environmentally sustainable and resilient to climate change, pests, disease, and market fluctuations.
The program will help almost 11,000 farmers directly and indirectly, while also benefitting related people and industries and younger people living in the countryside.
The project, which also aims to benefit women and indigenous people, will promote the adoption of agroecological principles by using a system of vouchers that farmers can exchange for supplies and technology to boost sustainable output. In addition, the program will include technical assistance to help farmers apply agroecological practices, as well as research projects that farmers can both participate in and learn from to improve production.
In addition, the program will help farmers reduce post-harvest losses, increase the value of crops and improve access to markets. To accomplish this, the project will provide support to 200 agricultural associations, cooperatives and family farming groups to help farmers design innovative business plans. The project also includes funding to help implement 100 of these plans.
Separately, the initiative will provide technological support to improve management capacity at the Panamanian Institute of Agricultural Innovation (IDIAP in Spanish) and the Ministry of Agricultural Development, the two institutions that will lead and carry out the project. The support will include the development of tools and digital skills training required to use the tools and improve digital information management.
The program forms part of the inclusive approach to development that is a bedrock of Vision 2025, the IDB’s blueprint for driving sustainable socioeconomic growth throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Increasing food security is critical to mitigating the effects of climate change and to ensuring that the most basic needs of people are met. Meanwhile, helping farmers, many of whom run small businesses, is key to creating jobs and economic growth while also reducing inequality in rural communities.