Minna, Oct. 17, 2023: The Niger government says it is seeking for the extension of the Federal Government’s collaboration with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) in rice and cassava value chain.
Alhaji Musa Bosso, the state Commissioner of Agriculture and Rural Development, made this known on Monday in Minna, as part of activities to mark this year’s World Food Day.
The event was also to review the VCDP Additional Financing (VCDP+AF) in the state.
Bosso said that there was the need to extend the programme because of the huge success it recorded in exposing farmers in the state to Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) thereby creating jobs, increasing wealth and uplifting the living standard of the smallholder farmers.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the progromme, which started in August 2014 in the state, later added VCDP+AF owing to its successful implementation and achievements recorded would end in December 2024.
“The IFAD-VCDP has touched many lives of our farmers in the eight participating Local Government Areas of Bida, Edati, Katcha, Shiroro, Kontagora Mokwa, Borgu and Wushishi, where the programme is being implemented.
“The IFAD-VCDP will continue in Niger state despite that the time frame will elaps in December 2024.
“This brings us to seek for an extension of the IFAD-VCDP because it has impacted meaningfully on our farmers and agriculture sector,” he said.
He explained that the state had started prompt payment of its counterpart funds; therefore, there was the need for the programme to continue as the measure would ensure sustenance.
The commissioner said that the programme which aimed at boosting the economic potential of the rural households farmers also exposed them to GAP.
He asserted that the programme was a huge success in the state; hence the need to extend it beyond 2024 toward food security of the state and the nation.
Similarly, Dr Mathew Ahmed, the State Programme Coordinator, VCDP, said that some of the successes recorded in the state included increase in the production, processing, packaging and marketing of rice and cassava.
Ahmed also said that the programme exposed the VCDP farmers in the state to using solar energy to pump water for irrigation.
“We noted that farmers spend about N600,000 to irrigate one hectare of land for rice production, using generator.
“When we tried the solar system, we noticed that the farmers were able to save over N350,000.
He appreciated the state government for approving N267 million to settle backlog of counterpart funds owed and the current one
“This will translate in the state VCDP withdrawing more funds from the IFAD county office.
“This means that the eight participating local government areas in the state will be able to increase their rice and cassava production, create more jobs, train their children and earn more money,” he said.
He said that 32,000 farmers in the state were engaged in the programme.
Earlier, Dr Yakubu Bello, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, said that there was the need to continue the programme which had ensured food security for the state and the country.
“It is sad that the programme is coming to an end, but on the other hand we want to plead that the VCDP be extended beyond 2024 to make our farmers and government key more into it for the benefit of the nation,” he said.
Also, Mr Yisa Sunday, Edati local government council Chairman, who spoke on behalf of the eight participating local governments, promised that they would liaise with the IFAD-VCDP to encourage farmers in their areas.
The intervention project in rice and cassava value chain which was supposed to wind-up in December 2019 was extended to December 2024 with VCDP+AF due to its success and the large number of farmers who benefitted from it.
IFAD-VCDP is a collaboration among Federal Government, IFAD and nine participating states of Anambra, Benue, Enugu, Ebonyi, Kogi, Niger, Nasarawa, Taraba and Ogun.
There are 32,000 VCDP farmers in the state spread across the eight benefiting local government areas of Bida, Katcha, Kontagora, Shiroro, Edati, Borgu, Wushishi and Mokwa.