By Obinna Unaeze
Gov. Umaru Bago of Niger has approved the release of N87.1 million counterpart fund for the implementation of International Fund for Agricultural Development Value Chain Development Programme (IFAD-VCDP) in the state.
The State Coordinator, IFAD-VCDP, Dr Mathew Ahmed, disclosed this on Monday in Minna, when the Federal Government’s IFAD-VCDP mission team visited the state.
Ahmed said that the money was for IFAD-VCDP’s Additional Financing.
“We are only waiting for the funds to be released by the state Ministry of Finance,” he said.
The Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Musa Bosso, also confirmed the governor’s approval.
Bosso said: “The Niger Government is ready to provide funding for our development partners, so that they will continue their good job in our state.
“The government will continue to support the VCDP to enable our farmers to benefit.
”In terms of the counterpart fund you asked for, you will get what is desirable in good time.”
The commissioner said that government accords agriculture great priority in order to make it the mainstay of the state’s economy.
He said: “It is not going to be business as usual now that we are approaching agriculture holistically to create jobs, reduce poverty and uplift the living standard of our people.
“The State Government is planning Smart Agricultural Development to enable our farmers to put in their best to better the state’s economy.”
According to him, VCDP has exposed farmers in the state to Good Agricultural Practices, in terms of production, processing, packaging and marketing.
Bosso urged IFAD-VCDP to come up with ideas that would bring about the development of the state’s agriculture sector.
“I want to assure you that government will create the enabling environment for VCDP to thrive in the state,” he said.
The Team Lead, Dr Samuel Eremie, called on the State Government to hasten the payment of its counterpart funds to ensure the timely implementation of the programme.
“It amazes us how Niger has achieved so much without full counterpart funds from the State Government.
“Niger state has achieved so much in the VCDP but when you look at the counterpart funding from government it is poor,” he said.
Eremie further said that some of the intervention activities of VCDP this year in the state would include climate resilience infrastructure, such as drains, culverts and roads.
He said that VCDP would also provide more solar boreholes and solar irrigation pumps to the farmers to mainstream climate change.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the intervention project in rice and cassava value chain, which was supposed to wind down in December 2019, was extended to December 2024 due to the bumper harvest recorded.
The project is being implemented, in collaboration with the Federal Government, IFAD and nine participating states of Anambra, Benue, Enugu, Ebonyi, Kogi, Niger, Nasarawa, Taraba and Ogun.
NAN learnt that no fewer than 33,000 farmers, drawn from across eight selected Local Government Areas (LGAs), were duly registered under the programme in the state.
He listed the LGAs as Bida, Katcha, Kontagora, Shiroro, Edati, Borgu, Wushishi and Mokwa. (NAN)