By Peter Duru, Makurdi
The International Fund for Agricultural Development-Value Chain Development Programme, IFAD-VCDP, Thursday flagged of the distributed of another tranche of N150million worth of inputs to Benue rice farmers for the 2022 cropping season to boost food production in the state.
The intervention covering production, inputs, farming and processing equipment for the farmers in the VCDP was the third after the first tranche of May and the second that took place in June.
Speaking at the flag off in Makurdi, the Benue State Programme Coordinator, SPC, of IFAD-VCDP, Mr, Emmanuel Igbaukum who disclosed that 150 farmers would benefit from the tranche commended Governor Samuel Ortom for paying the counterpart fund of the programme, pointing out that the intervention had completely changed the livelihoods of the benefiting farmers.
The SPC explained that “each of the rice farmers is going home with four bags of MPK, two bags of Urea fertilizer. As well as one bag of 50kg certified rice seeds. The farmers are also being supported with planting and production equipment including the power tilers, transplanters, the seeders, as well as the sprayers. We are also supporting the processors with de-stoners and polishers.
“So the total value of the intervention is put at N150million. This covers production, inputs, equipment as well as processing equipment all for Benue farmers in the VCDP.
“This is the third trenche of the input distribution. The distribution started in May when we supported the farmers under the grants from IFAD to support the vulnerable, those that were affected by COVID-19. And some of them that were affected by the herders crisis and were displaced and residing in Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs camp. From the three tranches, those that were supported with production inputs are a total of about 450 farmers.
“Some have benefitted from capacity building, over 215 of them are benefitting from the input support and over 50 are receiving various equipment for processing and production.
“We are also making sure that all farmers under this programme have their farms insured. Last year in collaboration with our partners over 3,500 farmers under the Programme had their farms insured. So we are making tremendous progress and changing the lives of our farmers.”
On the total number of farmers that had benefited from the intervention, the SPC said over 10,125 had benefited from the IFAD-VCDP intervention in the state.
Also, the National Programme Coordinator, NPC, Dr. Fatima Aliyu, represented by the Senior Agricultural Officer, Environment and Climate Change, Nura Lawal-Daura noted that access to high quality input and distribution of same had been key in the entire agricultural value chain system.
Addressing the farmers, the NPC said, “my passionate appeal is to emphasize and encourage you more to make adequate use of all these inputs and see how we can scale up the productive activities. And then see how we can sustain the momentum at which we are going.
“So I do not not need to stress on the importance of these inputs. You have all witnessed the serious changes in comparison with our agricultural practices. We have all seen how this equipment and how these tools have helped us to increase our hectares and eventually our yield.
“We have seen how these activities we are engaging in, ranging from extension services and the use of correct inputs have attracted the interest of organisations like Olam as partners and we must sustain and also increase the tempo.”
The Benue state Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr. Terna-Kester Kyenge, represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mrs. Hembadoon Gom urged the benefiting farmers to make good use of the inputs to boost food production in the state.
The Commissioner said, “with the water pumps, chemicals sprayers, the harvesters, de-stoners, tillers and everything that have been packaged for the benefitting farmers, farming has been made easy for them to improve their livelihoods. Also fertilizers are available for them including improved seeds. So if anybody fails in this programme the state government will not be happy with such a farmer.”
Responding on behalf of the farmers, Ngunan Adi assured that the benefiting farmers would put the inputs to good use to boost their yield.
The highpoint of the event was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, between the Olam, IFAD and representative of the farmers.