FG, IFAD train 98,000 rural farmers



by Felicia Imohimi

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) on Wednesday said no fewer than 98,000 rural farmers have benefitted from the Federal Government/IFAD-Value Chain Development Programme (FG/IFAD-VCDP) from 2019 to date.

Dr Fatima Aliyu, National Programme Coordinator of IFAD-VCDP said this on the sideline of the joint FG/IFAD Mid-Term Review (MTR) Mission of the Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) workshop in Abuja.

Aliyu said the project was designed to reach a total number of 135,000 beneficiaries comprising of rural farmers, marketers and processors from 2019 to 2024.

“VCDP focused on rice and cassava and it is aims to promote and improve livelihood outcomes of 350,000 smallholder farmers along the value chains in nine states of Anambra, Benue, Ebonyi, Niger, Ogun, Taraba, Enugu, Kogi and Nasarawa.

“VCDP is one of the major agricultural programmes in the country that focuses on enhancing the incomes and food security of poor rural households engaged in the production, processing and marketing of rice and cassava on a sustainable basis’’.

The coordinator said the programme’s objectives falls under IFAD’s strategic objectives to increase the productive capacities of poor rural people in a sustainable and resilient manner.

According to her, the programme has increased and improved their engagement in markets, while enabling them to better manage related risks.

“It’s also geared toward strengthening the environmental sustainability and climate resilience of their economic activities.

“VCDP is one of the investment projects of Nigeria that is contributing to reducing the annual food import bill in line with the country national policy’’.

“The MTR is an opportunity to fundamentally revisit design features and validate the continued relevance of the programme and its component parts by identifying “what is working and what is not working and reasons’’, she said.

According to her, it is to review implementation performance comprising quality of project management, performance of key partners, gender and poverty focus, effectiveness of targeting, innovation and learning, climate and environment focus.

“MTR is to assess the effectiveness of implementation with respect to the outputs, outcomes and impact arising from the two technical components – market development and production/productivity enhancement among others.

“The main objective is to provide FGN, IFAD and participating States and Local Governments with a detailed assessment on the level of achievements of VCDP; continued relevance of the market-led, demand-driven approach and assumptions made during programme design.

“Identified implementation constraints as well as recommendations and suggestions on any re-structuring, re-design and amendments that might be desired and necessary to improve programme effectiveness,’’.

Aliyu added the mission would consult all key stakeholders.

He listed beneficiaries to include agrobusiness coaches and incubators; state and local authorities national and international development partners financial institutions.

She said the consultation was to assess innovative and efficient ways to address the challenges facing the project, to harness existing opportunities in order to safeguard and scale up the progress made by VCDP.

IFAD Country Director, Dede Ekoue, said the MTR was necessary due to current challenges ranging from the Russia – Ukraine war and its impacts on food and agricultural input.

Other challenges according to her are currency exchange rate, the general hike in price or inflation, the insecurity in some rural areas and climate related disasters such as flood.

“The recent floods have washed away many of the progress made by the project and smallholder farmers, making it more difficult for the project to reach its target results.

“We want to make the programme more relevant for small holder farmers in Nigeria so that the impact of the programme will be scale up being the strategic thrust of the mission’’, she said.

Similarly, Mr Peter Kush Acting Director, Programme Coordinating Unit, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development assured of the ministry’s continuous support to ensure VCDP meet its targeted thrust.

Kush advised the mission against criticising when identified any gap but rather to work toward addressing the challenges in the course of the mission.

“The essence of the review is to look at it critically, come up with possible solution on how those areas with challenges can be improved upon’’. (NAN)