Abakaliki – Commissioners of Agriculture of Ebonyi, Ogun, Anambra, Niger, Benue and Taraba urged the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to expand the Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP to local government areas.

HARVEST: Women with baskets of tomatoes harvested from farmlands provided under the Restoring Agricultural Assets of IDPs, Returnees and Vulnerable Host Families in NorthEast Nigeria project, put together by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations; the UN Central Emergency Response Fund and the governments of Ireland, Japan and Belgium.

The commissioners made the call in Abakaliki during the ‘wrap-up’ meeting of the fifth Federal Government of Nigeria /IFAD-VCDP Supervision Mission.

The commissioners extolled IFAD’s immense contributions to farming activities in their respective states and stressed that its impact would be felt more in the local government areas.

Speaking, Chief Moses Nome, Ebonyi Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources said:“the state government has inaugurated four cassava processing clusters with the off-takers contributing 10 per cent of the investment and the government contributing 90 per cent.

“IFAD-VCDP should enlarge their operations to our local governments,’’ he said.

Also, Mr Afam Mbanefo, Anambra Commissioner for Agriculture said with IFAD’s support, the state has increased farmers participation in improved-farming activities and management of scarce resources.

“We have trained more than 200 farmers in various modern farm practices for them to be equipped to re-train others.

“IFAD should in addition to extending its activities, channel resources to meet the demand of benefiting states,’’ he said.

In the same vein, Mr James Anbua, Benue Commissioner for Agriculture said that the state had competitive and comparative advantage in the production of IFAD- VCDP’s promoted crops: rice and cassava, over other states.

“Benue government has revived agriculture in the state and we have extended the IFAD–VCDP standard-agricultural models from the five to all the 23 councils of the state,’’ he said.

Alhaji Kabiru Abbas, Niger Commissioner for Agriculture, said: “we hail IFAD’s contribution to the provision of food, especially rice in the state and country which has led to the stoppage of its importation into the country.’’

Dr Ameh Onoja, IFAD–VCDP National Programme Coordinator (NPC) noted that the mission’s objective is to provide a synthesis report on the status of VCDP’s specific and overall implementation performances.

“This is preparatory to the programme’s mid-term review slated for November, 2017 as the mission have successfully visited all VCDP states in the past two weeks, inspecting projects and interacting with farmers,” he said. (NAN)

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