The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-assisted Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) has handed over shops and stalls it constructed to benefiting communities in Ebonyi.
Mr Sunday Ituma, IFAD-VCDP Programme Coordinator in Ebonyi, said at the handover events in Nwofe Market in Izzi and Igboji market in Ikwo Local Government Areas that the programme was aimed at uplifting the well-being of farmers in benefiting councils.
Ituma said IFAD constructed and was handing over 10 ‘lock-up’ shops, 14 stalls and an aggregation centre in Nwofe market and also 14 stalls and an aggregation centre in Igboji market in Ikwo council area.
“The handover is part of the programme’s marketing component aimed at promoting our value chain crops of rice and cassava.
“The contractors have successfully completed the projects and according to the programme’s intervention document, we will constitute an operation and maintenance committee on the projects.
“The committee will oversee the allotment of stalls, their maintenance, collection of rents, operation of accounts and other requirements to ensure the projects’ sustainance,” .
He noted that a memorandum of understanding would also be signed between IFAD-VCDP and the benefiting communities to sustain the projects.
“The projects in Ikwo are strategic because the area is renowned for rice production in the state and are expected to enhance the marketing of the farmers’ produce.
“IFAD-VCDP appreciates the Ebonyi government for its numerous support, which has culminated in effective delivery of its mandate to farmers in the five benefiting councils of the state,” .
Gov. David Umahi had commended IFAD for its numerous agricultural interventions, which had assisted in revolutionising the sector in the state.
Umahi, represented by his Senior Special Assistant on rice production, Chief Itapa Azuobu, said IFAD-VCDP’s efforts informed the government’s consistent payment of its counterpart fund for the programme.
“I urge the benefiting communities to preserve and maintain the projects as I will send officials to monitor such maintenance on constant basis.
“I will hold the chairmen of the councils responsible if the projects are not properly maintained and hereby reiterate the government’s readiness to support IFAD-VCDP in assisting our farmers,” .
He instructed that the makeshift stalls inside the Igboji market be demolished within two weeks and the relocation of affected traders to a trading environment more conducive.
Chief Moses Nome, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, thanked God for his return to the ministry to witness the completion and handover of the projects started under his supervision.
“The Ministry of Agriculture will always collaborate with IFAD-VCDP to ensure that our farmers receive the needed assistance to increase crop yield and raise their income,” .
Dr Ameh Onoja, National Programme Coordinator of IFAD-VCDP, commended Ebonyi government for its consistent payment of programme’s counterpart fund, saying that it was one of the states in the forefront of such payments.
Onoja, represented by Mr Frank Njah, urged the benefiting communities to collaborate with the committee set up to maintain the projects to ensure their maximum utilisation.
Mrs Jane Nwancho, a farmer in Igboji, thanked IFAD-VCDP for constructing the shops and stalls, adding that the stalls would assist in the marketing of the farmers’ agricultural produce.
The IFAD-VCDP in the state will also handover such completed projects in the other benefiting councils of Afikpo-South, Ishiellu and Ohaozara.