International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-assisted Value Chain Development Programme have announced plans to deepen its intervention in areas of rice and cassava production in the country.
The Country Director of IFAD-VCDP, Mrs Nadine Gbossa, who led a Mission Team to Anambra disclosed this during a courtesy visit to Professor Solo Chukwulobelu, Secretary to the Anambra State Government in Awka.
IFAD-VCDP is an international financial institution and a specialised agency of the United Nations dedicated to eradicating poverty and hunger in rural areas of developing countries.
Gbossa, said the programme, which had already supported rice and cassava production in the country in the past three and half years, would further provide additional financing for another two years.
“This means addition of three more participating states from six and more local government areas, as well as increased partnership with other value chain programmes.
“We can always do better giving more attention to youths and women, adaptation to climate, nutrition and financial services for sustainability in the next two years.
“We are also working to strengthen the relationship between farmers and financial institutions for improved services,” the country director said.
She explained that the two-day visit by the mission would enable the team to assess the level of implementation and possibly make recommendations on the way forward.
“The programme is important to IFAD-VCDP because of its’ capacity to increase farmers productivity and to link them with off-takers and traders for food security in the country,” Gbossa added.
In his remarks, the National Coordinator of IFAD-VCDP, Dr Ameh Onoja further explained that the mission would enable the team identify areas of strength and weaknesses.
“We have enjoyed serious supports from the state government in the area of prompt payment of counterpart funds and for providing conducive environment for the state office to work,” he noted.
Onoja said Anambra had the best youth farmers in Nigeria with the highest yield per hectare of rice at seven metric tons under the programme.
According to him, from the analysis carried out so far, VCDP has injected a total of 225 million Dollars in excess over and above the credit which is about 75 million Dollars in Nigeria.
Responding, Secretary to the State Government, Professor Solo Chukwulobelu said Governor Willie Obiano’s administration places emphasises on agriculture as a major pillar.
“When he came into office, Anambra was a net importer of rice and producing only about 320 metric tonnes but now we have gone over 1,000 metric tonnes in production.
“His focus on agriculture ensures that we have been paying our counterpart funds promptly for all agricultural assisted programmes,” Chukwulobelu said.
He called for synergy between VCDP and FADAMA due to their focus on rice and cassava production.
The Mission Team also consists of officials from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Planning and Budget, besides other IFAD-VCDP consultants.