Increasing incomes of smallholder farmers through the promotion of agriculture as a business and also increasing the number of women participation in society, the Ministry of Finance yesterday singed a loan and grant of $28.5m with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The Agriculture Value Chain Development Project (AVDP) will target an estimated 43,000 direct beneficiaries and their families, thereby reaching approximately a total of 260,000 people with fund from IFAD, the Adaption fund, OPEC fund for International Development (OFID), the Private Sector and Government of Sierra Leone. The Deputy Minister of Finance, Patricia Laverley, explained that 73 percent which is $21.5m of the total $28.5m is loan while the remaining 27 percent, that is $7m is a grant, describing it as concessional loan and grant. According to her, Agricultural development remains key to the country’s economic development and rural poverty reduction and therefore considered untapped potential for improving production and productivity of staple and cash crops. The project will focus on rice, cocoa and oil palm despite the fact that the larger share of the budget will be devoted to rice production in the inland valley swamps, consistent with Government priorities, she assured, maintaining part of its resources will also be focused on horticulture; vegetable and tubers. The Finance Deputy Minister explained the Agriculture Value Chain Development Project (AVDP) will promote crop diversification and provide flexibility and choice to beneficiaries and support improved nutrition.