By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD, Thursday, disclosed the provision of $900, 000 grant to support small-scale farmers in seven northern States as a measure to cushion the impact of the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic.
The grant is the first through IFAD’s Rural Poor Stimulus Facility, RPSF, as contained in a statement issued, which explained that the grant is to support the worst affected small-scale producers and rural households in the North as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
The benefiting states are Borno, Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara, where vulnerable small-scale farmers receive assistance to bounce back.
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According to the statement, the grant agreement was signed by the Minister of Finance, budget and National Planning, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, and Regional Director for West and Central Africa, IFAD, Nadine Gbossa.
The statement also made it known that under the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, over 8,000 vulnerable smallholders will receive an agricultural stimulus and resilience package composed of climate-resilient seeds; these are high yielding, and high nutritional value varieties that will help farmers achieve good production and secure their incomes.
IFAD’s support complements the United Nations Nigeria COVID-19 Basket by earmarking resources to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on smallholders’ farming activities and domestic food supply.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Nanono, said, “We both recognize and appreciate IFAD’s support to our quest to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country’s economy, particularly on the agricultural sector,”
“This support strengthens my Ministry’s COVID-19 Agricultural Mitigation and Sustainability Plan, which aims to address the impact of the pandemic on Nigerian agriculture and food security.”
The government will procure 80 metric tonnes of the seed of maize, rice and vegetables, and 722 metric tonnes of fertilizer that will support the most affected small-scale farmers.
About 50 per cent are women, 25 per cent men, and 25 per cent young farmers who are already participating in the ongoing IFAD-funded Climate Adaptation and Agribusiness Support Programme.
Meanwhile, said Nadine Gbossa, IFAD’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa, said, “This funding from IFAD’s Rural Poor Stimulus Facility will ensure that farmers have timely access to inputs, information, and markets. By supporting smallholders to mitigate this crisis through a market-led approach, basic farming activities will be sustained, facilitating post-COVID-19 crisis recovery and resilience.
“IFAD is committed to leaving no one behind and will ensure that women and youth in Nigeria have an equal opportunity to benefit from this funding.”