Image may contain: food…closure date now June 30, 2025

By Peter Duru, Makurdi

Over 135,000 Nigerian households are now to directly benefit from the International Fund Agricultural Development, IFAD, Value Chain Development Programme, VCDP, intervention in parts of the country.

The targeted beneficiaries at the beginning of full disbursements in 2015 was put at 53,480 households, it was increased to 100,000 households after additional funding was secured in 2018 and lately increased to 135,000 households following an envisaged second additional funding which would be signed this year.

The National Programme Coordinator of the VCDP, Mr. Garba Bala made this known in Makurdi in his presentation during a two day learning visit to Benue VCDP Commodity Alliance Forum, CAF, by the Agribusiness Team of Climate Change Adaptation and Agribusiness Support Programme, CASP, from the North East and North Western states of Borno, Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara.

Represented by the Knowledge Management and Communication Advisor, Mrs. Vera Onyeaka-Onyilo, Mr. Bala said with the envisaged additional financing the programme completion date would be December 31, 2024 while closure date would be June 30, 2025.

He explained that the additional financing would be a $91.0million loan, “of which $50.0million comes from IFAD Loan, Government (FGN/States/LGAs) $10.8million, co-financiers  $18.5 million and $11.7 million from beneficiaries (mostly in kind/cash).”

According to him, “the original VCDP loan aimed to directly improve the livelihoods of 53,480 households (45,000 smallholder farmers, 7,680 small scale processors and 800 marketers)

“With additional funding in 2018, the total direct beneficiaries are 100,000 Households (91,000 Producers; 8,000 Processors & 1,000 marketers).

“And with another additional funding in 2019, the total direct beneficiaries are 135,000 Households (121,000 Producers; 14,000 Processors & Marketers).”

He said the programme which currently runs in nine selected states focuses on rural poverty reduction and accelerated economic growth achieved on a sustainable and inclusive basis.

On the VCDP mandate and rationale Mr. Bala said the VCDP focuses on enhancing the productivity and profitability of smallholder farmers and small/medium-scale agro-processors by improving their access to markets and capacity to increase yield as well as add value to locally produced raw materials through improved processing and packaging.

According to him, the primary target groups are poor rural  households engaged in the cassava and rice value chains in the nine host states of Anambra, Benue, Ebonyi, Niger, Taraba, Ogun, Enugu, Kogi and Nasarawa.

“This includes smallholder farmers cultivating up to five hectares of land devoted to cassava and rice. Traders and small-scale processors, with emphasis on women and youth.

It also includes progressive beneficiaries expanding up to 25ha.”

READ ALSO: We won’t allow your vigilante in Benue, Ortom warns Miyetti Allah

He listed some of the key result of the programme to include increase in productivity for rice (1.5 MT/ha to 4.5 MT/ha) and cassava (10 MT/ha to 25 MT/ha).

“79% beneficiaries increased their income by at least 25%.

5,373 jobs were created between 2015-2019 while percentage of households living below poverty line has reduced from 69% at programme inception to 48% in 2019.

“Through the CAF/4Ps model, VCDP has leveraged over US$3 million from the private sector for over 32,221 farmers.

VCDP has contributed 495,720 MT of Rice ($243.9M) and 653,843 MT of cassava ($46.2) to the Nigerian food security and N94.28 billion (US$290.1 million) to the national economy,” he added.

On the overall programme targets he said “at least 80% of direct beneficiary households have increased their household assets(measured by an increased household assets ownership index, based on additional assets) by at least 15%.

“The prevalence of child malnutrition in the programme LGAs has decreased by 20%.”

“At least 70% of beneficiaries (95,500) report adoption of environmentally sustainable and climate resilient technologies and practice.”

“At least 70% of women and youth have access to productive assets and increased production; and at least of 80% of beneficiaries (108,000) access formal financial services.”

Continuing, he said, “246 roads have been constructed and rehabilitated. 41,198 Smallholder farmers that have adopted at least one technology promoted by the programme. 47.4% of VCDP  beneficiaries reported an increase in household assets. 34,225 smallholders reporting an increase in profit. 50.6% reduction in the prevalence of child malnutrition.

89.6% produce was marketed for rice and 40% for cassava.

“The VCDP focuses on enhancing the productivity and profitability of smallholder farmers and small/medium-scale agro-processors by improving their access to markets and capacity to increase yield as well as add value to locally produced raw materials through improved processing and packaging of Cassava and rice thereby contribute significantly to incomes and household food security in rural areas,” he said.

Listing some of the challenges confronting the programme, he mentioned farmers matching grants contribution not readily available, shortfall in government counterpart funds, farmers-herders conflicts and climate change on agriculture and as some of them.

In his remark, the Benue state Commissioner of Agricultural, Mr. Timothy Ijir observed that the state had become a model for the VCDP in the country because of the successes it had recorded.

“The success of Benue has been recognized both locally and internationally and earned us awards. By coming to Benue on this learning visit be assured to gain much from our experience which has improved the livelihood of our people,” the Commissioner said.

 

On his part, the State Programme Coordinator, SPC, Mr. Emmanuel Igbaukum in his presentation on CAF said it had provided a platform for farmers to effectively engage with all stakeholders through an inclusive Public-Private-Producer-Partnership, 4Ps.

While giving a background of the history of CAF Igbaukum said “CAF which is a transaction and knowledge sharing platform of farmers, government off takers, financial institutions with credible credit delivery services, input dealers, and Civil Society Organizations among other players in the nine participating states.

“The process started with the mapping of major “off-takers” of rice and cassava roots in Nigeria. Among them were Olam Nigeria, Popular farms (Stallion Rice), Nigeria Starch Mills Plc, Onyx Rice Mill, JOSAN, Harvest Feed, Ebonyi Rice World just to mention a few.

“This was followed by market assessments by VCDP to determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that abound in the potential “off-takers” to engage with farmer groups and VCDP.

“The aim was to use the platform of the “off-takers” to leverage production and market services for the small poor farmers. After a critical analysis, the programme in most cases identified the weakness of the “‘off-takers” as being their inability to fully participate in supplying sufficiently the processing factories.

“Consequently they suffer from lack of adequate supply of raw materials in terms of the quantity, quality and time of delivery to the factory. In the alliance, farmers see this weakness as an opportunity to produce sufficient quantities, increase their sales, generate more income and improve their living standard.

“The participating farmers and “off-takers” were brought together in transaction meetings to discuss the partnership, negotiate terms of engagement, define obligations of each party including VCDP and drat an MoU and contracts as instruments of association to guide their operations leading to a win-win” outcome.”

According to him the objectives of CAF includes “to provide platform for farmers to effectively engage with all stakeholders through an inclusive Public-Private-Producer-Partnership.

“To promote sustainable linkage between big market actors and small producers. To promote mutual understanding and trust among stakeholders. To enhance communication and knowledge sharing among stakeholders. And to facilitate linkage to finance and other support (e.g. input, certification, insurance)”

On the results achieved by CAF he said, “VCDP is an outstanding case of Public/Private/Producers Partnership ,4Ps. The VCDP created CAF has dovetailed into a 4Ps model through which the farmers are engaging the government in policy discussions as well as with the private sector in business transactions.

“To date, through the CAF/4Ps model, VCDP has leveraged over US$3 million from the private sector for over 32,221 farmers through alternative financial inclusion.

“This engagement is being deepened for more farmers to leverage resources from the private sector in the new States and LGAs. VCDP is significantly contributing to Nigeria’s strategic objective of food security.

“The Programme has reached out to about 50,000 smallholders. In the last four years, VCDP has contributed 495,720 MT of Rice ($243.9M) and 653,843 MT of cassava ($46.2) to the Nigerian food security and N94.28 billion (US$290.1 million) to the national economy, and some levels of import substitution.

“The innovative CAF has become an exit window of the programme. As evidence, VCDP was invited by UN ECOSOC to participate in the 2018 SDG Investment Fair of the ECOSOC Financing for Development Follow-up Forum in New York to share their experience of the Public-Private-Producer-Partnership, 4Ps, engagement following the successful partnership with Olam.

“The 4Ps model has doubled farmers’ income and created a reliable structure for sustainable supply of raw materials to processors. Off takers are the drivers of the commodity alliance forum. Major off-takers such as OLAM co-fund farm activities; facilitate linkage and access to credit facilities from Financial Institutions,” he said

On Benue State CAF practice, Mr. Igbaukum explained that the forum started in 2016/2017 in the state.

According to him, “during its maiden edition in a town hall meeting, participants were given an opportunity to unveil their company’s activity and how they could partner with our farmers and other stakeholders.

“Those present were representatives of OLAM, Stallion and MIVA rice processors. Others were Apex, Fantaar and FTK cassava processors among others.

“The forum since then has provided opportunities for these Stakeholders to come out and chart a way towards production, processing, marketing, financial leveraging and exchange of inputs, services and resources towards increasing production, processing and marketing. It is a lifeline.

“The overall objective is to enhance production, market, income and economic development. It is also aimed at poverty reduction, drudgery, glut, and uncertainty in terms of market.

“CAF is a quarterly meeting and in Benue state, the meeting is being held every quarter since 2017. It involves virtually all stakeholders mentioned above. It has led to a linkage between the stakeholders on symbiotic basis.

“Consequently, the followings are among others who have been attending the meeting-TOHAN, TOFAN, OLAM Nig. Ltd, EGALF Ventures. Others include University of Agriculture, Makurdi (UAM), Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON). NAFDAC, NEPC, NAIC, AFAN, RIFAN, Commercial banks FCMB, Polaris and Bank of Agriculture, among others.

“Also NIRSAL, F.T.K, AT&S, Synergos‘ input dealers, Agro chemical and seed dealers and other service providers also attend the meetings on a regular basis.

“This has greatly established a synergy between the groups. The CAF has enhanced farm production with the use of improved technology. It has also increased stakeholders’ revenue and created job among the rural populace. It has also reduced idleness and criminality.

“CAF has been a veritable tool that will continue the activities of VCDP after its exit. Stakeholders have now known where to go to, to solve their various problems, through this linkage.

Continuing, he said “the forum has turned Agriculture into a lucrative business. It has also modernized it and most farmers no longer make use of the crude way of farming again, High Yielding Varieties (HYV) of seeds, tractors, threshers, harvesters, Agro-chemicals and extension knowledge are now being used. Also, Farmers have increased the shelf life of their products through processing.

“CAF for us here, is therefore, the hub on which the wheel of VCDP revolves. It is an indispensible part of the Programme and security, in which production, processing and marketing is guaranteed.”

He explained further that the Benue State CAF is being carried out at the State, Local Govemment and at Cluster levels. “In each of the cases, there is an executive team that regulates the activities of the members.

On the impact of CAF on Benue State, the State Project Coordinator said “CAF has brokered a relationship between the stakeholders in such a way that activities of the middle men who are regarded as vampires have been reduced to the barest minimum.

“Consequently, all VCDP rice farmers have been linked to a processor-Olam. Thus in 2017 alone, N2.5 billion was generated by the rice farmers which was pushed to the local economy by rice farmers after producing 25,000 metric tons of paddy.

“Within the period of 2016-2019, VCDP has contributed 73,408 MT of Rice worth N8.357billion ($25.795M) and 87,237 MT of cassava worth N3.925 billion ($12.079M) to the Nigerian food security and N12.282 billion (US$37.791 million) to the Benue economy.

“It has also created employment opportunities especially for the youths who have been engaged in mechanization, seed multiplication, loading and offloading and aggregation.

“Also, farmers have adopted the use of false bottom and steam par boiling as well as good labeling, branding and packaging programmes.

“They have also been linked to tractor hirers such as TOFAN TOHAN and AT&S. They are linked to extension outfits like EGALF ventures and capacity building agency -PIEKES, in addition, linked to other input and service providers, depending on the need at any particular time.

“As stated above all these linkages have helped to build inter-dependence and increased economic development and food production.

“High levels of confidence and trust have been built among the participants and this has increased planning and execution of programmes among the stakeholders.

“CAF has led a symbiotic relationship between the stakeholders and has given a sense of belonging to all stakeholders.

“The trainings received can now enable the members forecast the weather and plan their production pattern. These trainings emanated from CAF meetings and communicated through needs,” stated.

Pointing out some the challenges being encountered, Mr. Igbaukum noted very poor disposition of the rural farmers to commit substantial funds to the development of activities.

“High level of illiteracy among the members. Instability due to farmers/herders clashes that make planning erratic.

Poor road network which reduces movement of input and output of farmers. And poor Market especially for cassava produce which frustrate the producers.”

He said the lessons learnt from Forum includes the fact that

“private sector operators and producers are ready to work with development programmes that could facilitate the creation of a credible platform to discuss and manage a strong supply chain arrangement to guarantee produce timely supply to meet demand.

“It makes sense for smallholders to organize themselves into farmer groups, as scale can make the relationship more viable and therefore more attractive to the buyer. Inability of farmers’ organizations to match-grant VCDP supports which impact negatively on paddy supply.

“Also long distances to aggregation centres resulting in increase in transportation costs,” Igbaukum reiterated.

Vanguard

Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.