The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-assisted Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) contributed 56 million dollars into Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product in the 2017 production season.
Dr Ben Odoemena, IFAD Nigeria Country Programme Officer, said this on Monday in Abuja at the mid-term review of the programme.
Odoemena explained that 9.2 million dollars of the money was injected into Benue through the IFAD programme beneficiaries, thereby saving the country the foreign exchange that would have been expended on rice importation.
The officer said that 15,000 tonnes of paddy rice were produced while 10,000 jobs were created during the period under review.
‘‘In Benue alone, more than 3,000 jobs were created and overall, 10,000 jobs has been created, comprising paid jobs of more than 7,000.
‘‘This laudable goal was achieved due to the political will of the participating state governments and this has gone a long way to boost rice and cassava production in the country,’’ he said.
He stressed that aside supporting farmers, the programme had resulted in the construction of feeder roads to enable farmers to access their rice and cassava farms.
He said the programme also constructed modern rice mills in states to enhance its quality.
Odoemena said that more attention was now being focused on meeting the food needs of the country as well as earning more foreign exchange from exports and to diversify the nation’s economy.
He said in all the participating states the programme had opened the floodgates of opportunities for rice and cassava farmers and improved their livelihood.
“Looking at it critically, all the beneficiaries, mostly the youths, formed into cluster groups are now enjoying sustainable growth and yields in their annual returns from their investments.
“This could be attested to by the number of youths who attested to the success stories in all the participating local government areas,’’ he said.
Also speaking,Dr. Ameh Onoja, the National Coordinator, described the programme as a success story because it had empowered so many youths going by the assessment.
He said that 45,000 farmers in the six participating states of Anambra, Benue, Ebonyi, Niger, Ogun and Taraba had in the last three years embraced rice and cassava farming.
Of that number some of them engaged processing and marketing, to develop sustainable Value Chains for the two commodities.
Onoja said that the various interventions of the programme had significantly contributed to increased production, productivity, boosting income levels.
He also said that there had been enhanced value addition and market opportunities, as well as access to quality seed and planting materials among rice and cassava producers, processors and marketers in all the participating states.
“To date the youth entrepreneurs has been developed and now producing seeds in the cluster areas where the programme is being implemented.
“The programme has encouraged farmers with use of good agronomic practises which have resulted in significant increase in rice yield.’’
Onoja said noted that in the last three years, the rice producing areas were producing over five tonnes of rice per hectare as against two 2 tonnes previously while cassava yield had hit an average of 20 tonnes per hectare as against the 10 tonnes recorded in the past.
“It is indeed a success story as we have also constructed many roads to date; we have constructed 130 kms of roads out of our target of 180 kms.
“We have also upgraded processing centres and farmers there are doing stone-free branded rice with better equipment and have increased the income of the processors,’’ he said.
Onoja said that the land development under VCDP had created a culture of increased mechanisation among the farmers mostly the youths.
He added that the lands that the participating youths were farming, were donated by various communities.
“We have developed 1,292 hectares in the six participating states and provided mechanisation and paid half the cost to enable participants to afford them.
“The youths under the agreement have access to the land for 15 years at no cost,’’ he said.
In his remark, Samuel Adeogun, Ogun State Coordinator of the programme, noted that the level of production in the state had increased to 70 per cent.
He further said that more than 5000 farmers had been networked under the value chain implementation.
Adeogun noted that the level of illiteracy in the state had been the major challenge militating against the desired progress in the state.
He also added that the clashes between the herdsmen and farmers had affected many activities in the state.
He said beside the shortcomings, the programme had impacted positively on the participating farmers, thereby creating a generation of new farmers.
He added that it had promoted the market approach and the linkage to various activities along the two value chain of cassava and rice.
The programme has a total budget of 104.4 million dollars.
A breakdown shows that IFAD is providing 74.4 million dollars with Federal Government contributing 9.9 million dollars while state government are providing 10.4 million dollars.
Furthermore, local government are providing 4.3 million dollars, complementary financing 2.8 million dollars while the beneficiaries are contributing 2.1 million dollars