The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), will spend about 10m United States Dollars, to train 9000 women and youths as part of the IFAD/FGN Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP), towards enhancing the production of rice and cassava.
Team leader of the IFAD/FGN Joint Implementation Support Mission to Nasarawa State, Dr. Samuel Eremie, disclosed this when he led his team on a courtesy call at the Government House, on Tuesday.
Dr Eremie said the IFAD/FGN joint implementation support mission was in Nasarawa State to focus on how to improve implementation performance across the nine states in the country participating in the value chain development programme.
According to him, the value chain development programme focuses on small holders in the rural areas, with particular emphasis on women and youths, with a view to generating employment and alleviating poverty.
Eremie disclosed that Nasarawa State is the second state to be visited after Ogun State, with Nasarawa selected as an example of the second three states to join the VCDP, while Ogun is an example of the first six states under the programme.
While appreciating Engineer Sule for supporting the VCDP, the joint implementation support mission team leader added that, IFAD has set aside 10m USD to spend in Nasarawa State over the period of the Additional Financing 1 and Additional Financing 2, under which Nasarawa State joined the VCDP.
He specifically thanked the Governor for approving about N176m as counterpart funding for 2019/20, while also giving approval for another N176m for 2021/22.
“Your Excellency, I want to assure you that this investment is not in vain. Nasarawa State you will recall is at least number five in rice production which is one of the value chain covered by the VCDP,” he said.
Eremie added that, so far, IFAD has been able to reach over 2000 people out of the targeted beneficiaries, with tremendous results already manifesting in the lives of the participants.
“And as we went round the state, it was very obvious that cassava is a major crop in Nasarawa State. So your investment in the development of the women and youth participating in these value chains is definitely a worthwhile investment and we appreciate it.
“Yesterday, we were shown a clip of a handicapped woman, who participated in this programme and some of us, I personally wept. But it’s a pointer to what Nasarawa State can achieve with minimal support to this external support that you are receiving from IFAD and the federal government.
“This lady clearly said she felt challenged. She saw able bodied people making it in rice and cassava value chain and she participated in the programme. Today, the film showed us the house that she built, she has generated sufficient revenue to go back to school and about N400, 000 been allocated from her profit to reinvest in the cassava business.
“If we can touch the lives of many more rural people in Nasarawa State, I think you will have no business talking about hunger and poverty in Nasarawa State,” Eremie stated.
He however urged for more support, especially that the VCDP is winding up in 2024 and there’s need to speed up the implementation in order to cover the target of the project.
“Your Excellency, we urge you to please continue to support the VCDP in the state. You have been doing so in the past, for which we are grateful and for which your people will also be grateful to you.
“At this time, you need to put in more efforts. Have an interest. We are assuring that this mission is to support them to improve their performance. I want to challenge you Your Excellency, don’t just give them money, show an interest in what they are doing.
“And if they are not performing well, you can tell them to their face. We are here to discuss with them any challenges they are facing because we cannot allow business to continue as it is,” Eremie added.
Responding, Governor Abdullahi Sule reiterated the commitment of his administration to the value chain development programme, especially that Nasarawa State is an agricultural state.
Engineer Sule expressed satisfaction with the impact the programme is already having on the lives of the people of the state, especially the women and youths participating in the project.
Aside of the lady living with disability, Governor Sule recounted how another lady that is benefitting from the VCDP programme that is changing the lives of the beneficiaries.
“A participant was given two hundred thousand and today she has made N1.6m. And she was very excited. People may not take that serious but to her, that’s all. And really for me, that’s what life is all about. She must not have two hundred million, she is happy with her N1.6m. And she has been able to send her children to school, and she’s so happy,” he stated.
Governor Sule explained that, on assumption of office he quickly ensured Nasarawa State was enlisted in the VCDP, considering the fact that the state is mostly agrarian.
“When we came in, Nasarawa State was not even enlisted, not even participating. We said it’s impossible. We are an agricultural state. We can’t say we are not participating,” the Governor said.
He pointed out that though Nasarawa is now number five in rice production in the country and number two in cassava, the target of his administration is for Nasarawa State to be among the top three rice producing states.
“We are number two in cassava and our target is to be among the top three in rice from our present fifth position. Other people have moved so far before we came in that is the reason why. Kebbi State has done so well in the area of rice and not necessarily because they have the small scale farmers but they have several of the big farmers that came in and developed the out growers,” Governor Sule said.
He explained that his administration is working with commercial agricultural companies like Olam to produce more out growers.
“Olam is also taking rice all the way from Azara so some of their out growers are in Azara, Awe, and of course Doma. They have only 10, 000 hectares, they have developed about 4000 plus. They are expanding their mill.
“We are really an agricultural state and if we develop our agricultural potentials, people will not even worry to come into Lafia, Keffi, they will stay there and make a living. But we must provide them with proper security and that is one of the reasons we continue to work very hard in the area of security,” he stated.
Governor Sule however said his administration will ramp up efforts towards achieving the goals of the VCDP.
He challenged the VCDP State Programme Coordinator, Dr. Eunice Adigizi, to step up efforts with a view to accelerating the implementation of the programme.