By Vincent Ujumadu
AWKA—A TEAM of officials from the World Bank and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development yesterday began the inspection of projects being executed in Anambra State under FADAMA 111 Additional Funding.
The team, which was led by Dr. B.C Agu of the World Bank, would visit the bank’s funded rice and cassava projects in the six select local government areas of the state to assess the level of implementation and challenges facing the projects.
Speaking before the commencement of the inspection, Agu commended Anambra State for attaching great importance to agriculture, adding that because of the importance the state government attached to agriculture, it was the only state in the South East geo political zone that had received full grants for 2017 because the state met all the requirements, including being up to date in the payment of counterpart funding.
Agu said: “FADAMA 111Project is a partnership between the state governments, the farmers, the Federal Government and the World Bank. All these partners are aiming at one thing and that is to ensure increase in productivity, processing, as well as enhanced income for the small -scale and the medium- scale farmers.
“We are happy that Nigerians now love locally produced rice and our desire is to meet their expectations by increasing yield so as to reduce importation.
“During this mission tour, the team will inspect what had already been done on each component, including the business plans along the value chain and look at the programmes and how they have been implemented. We will also find solutions where the project failed.”
Anambra State project coordinator of FADAMA, Mr. Patrick Egbue said that because of the support of the World Bank and the Federal Government, most rice farmers in the state increased their yield from about three metric tons last year to seven metric tons this year.
According to him, the assistance also enabled FADAMA to build a modern tractor hiring centre at Omor in Ayamelum local government area which the farmers manage themselves.
He said: “Before, one of the greatest challenges we faced was post harvest losses, but the farmers have been provided with storage facilities where buyers go and make their purchases. We have also introduced the farmers into mechanization and they have been enjoying the benefits.
“Where we were in 2016 was a far cry from where we are in 2017 and that is due to the support we get from the mission teams, including the World Bank and the federal government.
“The relationship between FADAMA and the farmers has also continued to improve and this has led to a major leap in the results we get. Though we have challenges, the successes outweigh the challenges.
“Two years ago, the farmers lived in huts, but due to improvements in their incomes, through the efforts of FADAMA, they have built modern houses and their lifestyles have improved.”
The permanent secretary in the state ministry of agriculture, mechanization and processing, Mr. Leo Imoka said the state’s counterpart fund for 2018 would be paid in the first quarter of next year, expressing delight at what FADAMA had used the farmers to achieve in the state.