By Chinwe Imo-Eze Onwosi
The Federal Government through the International Fund for Agricultural Development – Value Chain Development Program IFAD – VCDP, has acknowledged the remarkable transformation by its 9-year presence in Ebonyi State, resulting in enhanced food security, increased agricultural productivity, and empowerment of farmers.
Dr Fatima Aliyu, National Programme Co-ordinator IFAD-VCDP, made this comment during the official handing over of Agricultural equipment to beneficiaries of the FG-IFAD and Ebonyi State Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP).
Aliyu who was represented by Mr Gidado Bello, Human Resource Adviser VCDP Abuja, said the huge achievements by the program in the state was due to the support of the government program and policies.
“One of the biggest achievements of the state VCDP is the perfect alignment of the programme with policies and programmes of the State government which leads to the government support and continuity.
“The programme is owned by the Federal Government and State Government.
“IFAD is only facilitating their performance and support is what matters to us. And we have seen it in the state government.
“Again, these items you see here will form the one stop agro input store where farmers can go and pick what they need to improve on their livelihood,” Aliyu said.
In his remark, the Ebonyi State Governor, Francis Nwifuru, attributed the progress made in supporting farmers, such as providing grants and facilitating access roads to farmlands, to the instrumental role played by IFAD.
The Governor, who was represented by Mrs. Nkechinyere Iyioku, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, represented Nwifuru as she stated that the value chain program has significantly impacted the lives of farmers in the state since its implementation in 2013.
“Today IFAD is rolling out rice and cassava production and processing equipments amongst others to farmers organisations drawn from eight participating local Govt areas.
“We admonish the beneficiaries organisation to effectively put all these equipment to use in order to achieve the purpose it is meant for.
“All hands must be on deck to ensure food security in the nation,” Nwifuru said.
Mr Sunday Ituma, State Programme Co-ordinator IFAD-VCDP said the programme had invested the sum of N 87 million in the procurement of the agricultural equipment.
Ituma added that beneficiaries contributed about 30 per cent of the cost while IFAD – VCDP contributed N60. 9 million.
“It a matching ground intervention. The programme procured agricultural equipment for production, processing and other empowerment programme.
“We have one-stop agro, and the essence is to support one beneficiary from each LGAs to venture into buying and selling of agricultural inputs.
“We are also partnering with zenith bank, moni point and have registered 20 youths with cooperate affairs and will support them with point of sale,” he said.
He said that the project was aimed to reduce poverty, support youths, women especially the vulnerable group to enable them practice agriculture effectively.
According to him, it also aimed at creating employment to generate income.
He applauded Gov Francis Nwifuru for the role played in the implementation of IFAD-VCDP in the state.
He said Nwifuru approved counterparts fund contribution of N100 million which made it possible for the programme.
“We are going to have another batch before end of 2023.
“There are other interventions projects ongoing in 8 participating local government areas. The programmes is intervening and providing solar power pole holes.
“We have also completed 16 of them, two in each LGAs, among others,” Ituma said.
He further commended IFAD and the National Programme Co-ordinator for their kind supports so far of the programme.
He charged the beneficiaries to utilise the items distributed to serve it purpose.
Mrs Chioma Nweze, Senior Special Adviser to the President on Community Development, assured that the presidency is interested in stepping down initiatives and programmes to the grassroot.
Nweze urged the beneficiaries never to give up on their farming no matter the challenges faced but save from every profit made from their seedling.
“IFAD is about the people, the grassroots and the communities,” Nweze said.
Mr Anthony Nwegede, Chairman of the Occasion urged the beneficiaries to utilise the opportunity and equipment given to improve their farming skills.
“You must take this opportunity seriously, knowing that the growth of our economy depends on agriculture.
“To boost agriculture produce here, we needs a collective responsibility of government, stakeholders and farmers,” Nwegede said.
Mr Edward Isiwu, Enugu Programme Co-ordinator VCDP said that the programme were significantly targeted to reduce poverty among farmers.
Mrs Theresa Igwe of Umuohara Widows and Mr Theophilus Aja of Onye Aghala Nwanney groups unbehalf of the beneficiaries expressed satisfaction over the procurement and promised to make agriculture” a money spinning venture”.
The equipments were handed over to various group farmers by Gov Nwifuru.
The equipments distributed include; 8 tricircle, 10 water pumping machine, 10 rice reaper, 10 rice planter, 10 scalers and 10 stitchers.
Others include 8 sets of rice miller equipment with distoner, hauler, polisher and power point, winnower 12, thresher 12 and agro chemicals non selective herbicides, NPK fertiliser, Urea, selective herbicides among others.