Target accelerating implementation of action plan

As IFAD’s investment hits $459m

By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja

As food production and smallholder farmers’ profitability take centre stage in the agricultural sector, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD, and Federal Government of Nigeria, Wednesday, embarked on a 3-day Workshop to build capacity of staff on financial management and procurement for FG/IFAD Funded Projects in Nigeria.

The IFAD Country Director, Dede Ekoue, in a speech, explained that the 3-day workshop is to further upscale impact of the important partnership for Nigerian small scale farmers through proved procurement and financial management practices.

Ekoue urged participants to share their experiences, take advantage of the national and international expertise that would be laid bare for better service delivery as they return.

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The IFAD Nigeria country programme is now the largest in West and Central Africa Region in terms of financing. IFAD currently funds two effective projects in Nigeria: Value Chain Development Programme, VCDP, Middle Belt, which benefiting States include Anambra, Benue, Ebonyi, Niger, Ogun, and Taraba. Expanded in2018 to Enugu, Kogi and Nasarawa; Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprise-Niger Delta Programme, LIFE-ND, in Niger Delta region, benefits States include, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers; Special Agro Processing Zones Programme in Kano, Kaduna, FCT, KWARA, Oyo Ogun, Imo and Cross River States. IFAD covers two States: Kano and Ogun, and is expected to entre force, while Climate Change Adaptation and Agribusiness Support, CASP, in the North closed in March 2022, and the benefiting States include Borno, Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara.

IFAD’s direct investment in Nigeria (loan/grant) through these programmes amounts to US$459 million leveraging a total budget of US$1 billion through domestic and International co-financing, including the CASP project.

She said: “The 3-day workshop is organised to further scale up the impact of this important partnership for the Nigerian smallholder farmers through improved procurement band financial management practices in the implementation of the two major projects under the Federal Government of Nigeria of Nigeria/IFAD Cooperation.

“The workshop is expected to lead into the following results: Participants’ knowledge of financial management and procurement improved; Action plan for quality and timely projects’ procurement developed in line with recommendations of supervision and support missions; Action plan for improved projects’ financial management developed in line with recommendations of supervision and support missions; Best practices shared for the resolution of outstanding matters during the clinics; and recommendations formulated for better integration of ethical matters in project management.”

However, she (Ekoue) tasked the two National Programme Coordinators of VCDP and LIFE-ND on accelerating implementation of action plan developed during the workshops.

She also assured support and close partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria to improve life of rural communities, to boost food systems transformation and enhance the contribution of agriculture to inclusive growth and job creation while ensuring sustainability and resilience to crisis and climate.

While declaring the workshop open, the Director, Projects Coordinating Unit, PCU, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Engr Ubandoma Ularamu, explained that the workshop is to provide all the participants an opportunity to learn, share experience and deepen knowledge on project procurement.

Ularamu also acknowledged how IFAD has over time provided tremendous financial and technical support to Nigeria particularly to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development as IFAD currently finances three key projects; LIFE-ND, VCDP and SAPZ, which the projects have enormously impacted lives of Nigeria’s rural populace.

However, he stated that the workshop intends to address challenges of inadequate funding and logistics problems, which the solution is for development partner provides more funding, and also for project and procurement officers sit up and do their job to deliver the results to Nigerians.

IFAD brought together international procurement and financial management consultants, representatives of government, projects staff, national and state project coordinators, national and state procurement officers, national and state financial controllers and accountants, national and state internal auditors, and national and state monitoring evaluation officers and IFAD experts.

He said: “The objective of this workshop is to provide all the participants with a forum to learn, share experience, provide guidance band deepen their knowledge on project procurement and financial management in order to ensure compliance with loan terms, covenants, policies and procedures; accelerate implementation of Annual Work Plan and Budget for timely results and enhance value for money for project expenditure.

“This workshop will go a long way in giving deadly blow to miss procurement and ineligible expenses as this negative effect of procurement will no longer have a breathing space in the face of procurement.

“One overarching issue emanating from the two acceleration workshops was to develop game-changing strategies for a deep transformation of procurement and financial management of FGN/IFAD projects in Nigeria. This will enhance the achievement of all developmental objectives of the projects optimally, while keeping in mind ‘value for money’ and acceptable compliance to the IFAD policy and procedures.

“Hence, as part of IFAD commitment to strengthen and improve the quality of project procurement and financial management practices, this workshop is organised to accelerate the anticipated transformation of procurement and financial management of all FGN/IFAD projects in Nigeria.”

He also expressed appreciation for the over three decades of IFAD’s close work with the Federal Government of Nigeria toward development of the agricultural sector and effort in poverty reduction.

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