The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-assisted Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) has begun its 2018 input distribution to farmers in Ebonyi.
Mr Sunday Ituma, the IFAD-VCDP State Programme Coordinator (SPC) in Ebonyi, said that the exercise was part of its cardinal objectives of assisting the rural poor in the state.
Ituma, represented by Mr Darlington Onele, noted that only 1,070 out of the proposed 12,000 farmers would benefit from the 50 per cent matching grant intervention due to shortage of funds.
“The distribution will last for two weeks and at the end of the first week, other Field Officers (FO) will be considered if any of the shortlisted ones did not collect theirs.
“The benefiting farmers will only receive certified rice feeds, fertilisers (NPK and Urea), and cassava as they are expected to show evidence of purchasing rice seed before accessing fertilisers.
“The rice seeds cost N450 per kilogramme (kg) as beneficiaries are expected to pay N11, 250 into a designated bank account and use the teller to access the fertilisers,” .
Ituma said that the intervention was aimed at improving the income and livelihood of the farmers through value addition and productivity enhancement.
“The cost of fertilisers is N8, 500 but the state governor in his magnanimity subsidised the NPK brand to N3,000 and the Urea brand to N3, 500.
“Agro dealers are mandated to access their fertilisers from the Ebonyi fertiliser plant because of its improved quality which ensures that we had good yield in 2017,” .
He noted that the cost of cassava cutting remains N1, 300 but the beneficiaries would pay N650 being part of the matching grant arrangement,”.
Mr Ikechukwu Nwobo, the Commissioner Agriculture and Natural Resources, thanked IFAD-VCDP for its intervention in the state, noting that Ebonyi farmers had benefited tremendously from the project.
“IFAD–VCDP is a disciplined organisation and its intervention in input distribution, provision of matching grants and construction of rural roads have greatly enhanced agriculture in the state.
“We, however, urge you to increase the number of beneficiaries from the input distribution to complement the state government’s intervention in that regard,” .
Mrs Anthonia Ibe-Enwo, the State Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) Coordinator, thanked the Gov. David Umahi for his interventions in the agriculture sector which had benefited farmers.
“I urge the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the inputs and endeavour to ask questions from extension workers and other agricultural agents on how to use the inputs,”
Chief Opu Odefa, Chairman of the Agro dealers in the state, urged the beneficiaries to expeditiously access the inputs in order not to be accessed by other farmers.
“We are assuring the farmers of the quality of inputs we are distributing to them and guarantee that it will ensure improved yield and bountiful harvest,”.
Mrs Betty Nwakpa, one of the beneficiaries thanked IFAD for the inputs and pledged to judiciously utilise them.