The Federal Government has embraced value-chain development (VCD) to stimulate growth, promote agric and combat rural poverty. One of the agencies promoting it is the Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI), Ilorin, Kwara State.
The institute is deploying VCD to empower rural people and increase food security. DANIEL ESSIET reports.
For years, life has been a struggle for many rural farmers in some parts.
To them, building a better life on the farm takes energy, hard work and commitment. Despite this, their crops wither under severe drought and other circumstances, the fields produce poor yields, the result is meagre stocks at the end of the season.
They attribute this to inefficient technologies, poor access to credit and poor marketing strategies.
To them, the sector has suffered from weak food production, an unfavourable weather, and significant poverty. The outcome is a vicious cycle for farmers, which jeopardises food security.
So, how can farmers break out of this cycle?
In August 2012, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) provided $74.5million loan to the Federal Government to help improve food security and incomes of smallholder farmers through a Value Chain Development (VCD) Programme.
Expectedly,VCD Programme falls in line with the government’s vision for agricultural development, which focuses on strengthening farmers’ capacity to take advantage of market opportunities and overcome constraints along the value chain. The loan agreement for the programme was signed in Abuja.
More than 200,000 poor rural households have benefitted from the programme, with a particular focus on women and young people.
Since then IFAD has financed some programmes and projects in the country, benefitting more than one million rural households.
Equally, the Federal Government has made the development of the value chain one of the spear points of its rural empowerment strategy.
One agency at the vanquard of promoting value chain agriculture is the Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI), Ilorin, Kwara State. For them, a productivity-led growth in the sector is key to new employment opportunities, higher incomes, and a brighter future in rural areas.
This gave birth to its Commodity Value Chain Development Programme, (CVCDP) programme to promote economic growth and employment, through an integrated agro training programme for small farmers micro and small enterprises.
In addition, ARMTI has launched the first-ever National Association of Agricultural Commodity Value Chain Development (VCD) facilitators in the country.
Inaugurating the facilitators in Abuja, Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, reiterated the government’s readiness to implement measures to reduce productivity constraints for crops and other farm activities.
Represented by the Deputy Director (Engineering & Mechanisation, Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development, Abdullahi Garba Abubakar, an engineer, Ogbeh said the government will continue to create long-term and sustainable small farmer livelihood opportunities in rural areas through agribusiness ventures.
Earlier this year, during the launch of the Green Alternative Policy, Ogbeh had reiterated that strengthening the food value chain was one of the most important ways to foster rural-urban development.
One of the major priorities of the policy, the Minister said, is to accelerate sectoral restructuring in the direction of increased value and sustainable development.
According to him, development of food supply chains would help increase farmer’s income and promote rural development.
He said the government was determined to build agri-value system in collaboration with private players, urging the producers, manufacturers, and agro businesses to come forward and partner with it in the quest to build a value chain system.
ARMTI ‘s Acting Executive Director, Dr Olufemi Oladunni, said CVCDP started in 2012 when the institute undertook a nationwide baseline study on selected agricultural commodity value chains and organised a National Seminar in Abuja for relevant stakeholders to brainstorm on the subject.
“To further deepen the impact of the programme, the institute had envisioned and identified a gap that needed to be properly blocked, and had proactively taken the initiative to do so. That is the matter of trained manpower to manage the gains of the value chain programme nationwide.”
According to him, identifying the need to develop a crop of seasoned commodity value chain facilitators for the nation informed the application and securing of approval from the Federal Government to carry out a National Training of Trainers (TOT) for Agricultural Value Chain Development Facilitators as one of the capital projects for execution by ARMTI in 2013.
TheTOT, after its completion aimed at spreading the messages of the CVCDP across the nation’s geo-political zones through many trainers that would have been churned out after the training.
So far, he said, 109 have been trained.The participants, he said, have been empowered and mandated to further step down the training to the grassroots level in their respective states.
“As facilitators in VCD, you will mobilise the stakeholders – producers, processors, marketers and even consumers – to unite in their activities to ensure food security, provide employment and increase income.”
According to him, an interim executive body would be elected and commissioned; and ARMTI is willing to provide facilities for a secretariat for the association.