The Inter-American Development Bank recently announced the approval of $352 million in development loans to Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica and Jamaica.

The largest of the four loans is a $183 million credit to Mexico designed to accelerate agricultural development and improve the conditions of low-income farmers.

The loan will be used to provide credits to individual farmers and farm organizations to finance the cultivation of crops (principally corn wheat, sorghum, rice, beans and other basic grains), livestock and large agricultural processing projects.

The 20-year loan represents the sixth stage of a national farm credit program. The IADB has helped finance the five previous stages with loans totaling $283 million.

The IADB also approved a loan of $115.8 million to help Colombia meet an expected 6.5 percent growth in electricity demand before 2000.

The 20-year loan will finance a $289.6 million project designed to improve the reliability and capacity of electricity service by installing new transmission lines along the coast and in the country's southeast and northeast regions. The IADB has granted $1.4 billion in loans to Colombia to finance 14 projects, including the construction of more than five hydroelectric plants.

In another agreement, the Washington-based development bank approved a $31 million, 25-year loan for a Costa Rican project designed to help small-scale farmers switch from farming annual crops to producing permanent crops, such as African palm and cacao.

The project also calls for the construction of a palm-oil extraction plant that will be managed by a 140-member cooperative. In addition to increasing the standard of living of the farmers, the project is designed to help Costa Rica become self-sufficient in vegetable oils and generate foreign exchange from exports.

Finally, the IADB announced the approval of two loans totaling $22.1 million to help stimulate economic growth in West Kingston, Jamaica. The loans will be used to improve the city's infrastructure, establish community development programs and rehabilitate some of the city's existing open-air markets.