The loan is part of a US$130m development programme that will set out to reduce poverty for over 62,000 rural households in the heavily forested Eastern Ghats and Northern Plateau regions.
The programme will be used to support improved access to land, natural resources, agricultural technologies, financial services and markets. It also aims to boost social infrastructure and essential social services.
Given the extremely severe malnutrition found in targeted villages, it incorporates “nutrition-sensitive” agricultural activities across all its programme components, according to Rasha Omar, IFAD’s programme manager.
“Vulnerable tribal groups are the most disadvantaged in Odisha State,” she said. “They fare poorly on all development indicators such as food and nutrition security, literacy and health.
“Given their high dependence on an ecologically complex natural resource base, they are also highly vulnerable to changing weather patterns.”
Tribal populations living in the area have traditionally derived their livelihoods from shifting cultivation, rain-fed agriculture and from gathering non-timber forest products.
Farming practices are basic, and mostly include growing rain-fed rice and millet. Many tribal people are landless.
Since 1979, IFAD has invested a total of over US$928m in 27 programmes and projects in India at an overall cost of US$2.6bn including co-financing. These projects have directly benefitting 4.4m households, the fund estimates.