Gov. Peter Mbah of Enugu State has released N274 million counterpart fund to sustain the International Fund for Agricultural Development/Value Chain Development Programme (IFAD-VCDP)-Assisted Programme in the state.
The Enugu State Programme Coordinator of IFAD-VCDP, Dr Edward Isiwu, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday.
NAN reports that IFAD is a specialised financial institution of the United Nations working to tackle poverty and hunger in rural areas of developing countries.
Similarly, VCDP is a six-year development initiative of the Federal Government that focuses on supporting cassava and rice value chains for small farmers in the nine states of Anambra, Benue, Ebonyi, Niger, Ogun and Taraba, Kogi, Enugu and Nasarawa.
In Enugu State, five Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Aninri, Enugu East, Nkanu East, Isi Uzo and Udenu are benefitting from the programme.
Isiwu said that the money was meant for implementation support to the agricultural sector, particularly the VCDP smallholder farmers.
According to him, the money will enable the state to access more funds towards boosting food security and employment.
He said that the governor had graciously paid the arrears of counterpart funds, following the impact of the programme in the past two-and-a-half years in the state.
Isiwu said that the gesture would strengthen the partnership with FGN/IFAD VCDP to support rural household farmers annually with agro-inputs.
“It would also make available agro-processing equipment, market infrastructure and water supply in the benefitting LGAs for increased crop yield and improved farmers’ standard of living,” he said.
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He thanked the governor for sustaining the programme in the state, saying that the payment would further strengthen the capacity of the State Programme Management Unit (SPMU).
Isiwu said that the payment would in addition enable SPMU to profile more farmers, producers, processors and marketers into the scheme.
He also said that it would enable the construction of more market infrastructure, build more rice and cassava processing centres, solar-powered boreholes, agro-equipment and agro-inputs.
“It will also help develop the capacity of women farmers on dietary and nutrition activities and climate change resilience activities.
“We have already profiled at least 10,000 farmers benefitting from the IFAD-VCDP project in our databank.
“So, this counterpart contribution will make us reach more smallholder farmers, provide infrastructure to more communities and agro equipment support to farmers within the five LGAs,” Isiwu said.
He said that in 2021, 40 youths, drawn from the five LGAs, were sent to the National Cereals Research Institute, Badeggi in Niger State, to study skills on how to produce certified rice in order to become certified rice seed entrepreneurs.
He also said that another 40 were sent to the National Root Crop Research Institute, Umudike in Abia State to learn how to multiply cassava stem and become cassava stem multiplication entrepreneurs.
“These youths were supported with agro-inputs and equipment on return from their studies.
“Most of the rice and cassava produced by these youths are all over the market.
“With this counterpart contribution by the state, we will select, prepare and support more youths to benefit from such programmes in the next month.
“And we are going to increase our work capacity by 100 per cent to ensure we deliver on our assignment as provided by IFAD and Enugu State Government for the rural poor,” Isiwu also said.
He listed some of the ongoing projects in the state to include the construction of two Model Three Rice Processing Mills with Dry Slab and Parboiling sheds at Mbulu Owo in Nkanu East, Agu-Amede in Isi Uzo LGAs, and many others at Enugu East and Udenu LGAs.“It is my prayer that the governor will make time to see the farmers he has put smiles on their faces,” he said, adding that “all we owe the state is effective delivery.”