The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has ploughed over N2.7 billion into Benue communities to boost rice, cassava production.
Indeed, Benue state local communities received over N2.7 billion for the cultivation of rice and cassava between September to date through partnership with IFAD- Value Chain Development Programme.
The IFAD state programme co-ordinator, Emmanuel Igba who disclosed this, at its first quarter meeting in Makurdi recently, appealed to the Benue state government to release its counterpart funding of N94,800,000 to enhance the production capacity of rice and cassava in the state.
Igba disclosed that under the 2017 cropping season, OLAM through IFAD-VCDP have supported 3,455 farmers to cultivate 5,387 hectares of rice which led to the increase of over 3,198ha as against 2,189ha recorded in 2016.
Similarly, the coordinator disclosed that IFAD has supported 1,392 cassava farmers to step up production, where 3,166ha were cultivated, signifying an increase of 1,666ha above the 2000ha cultivated in 2016.
While appealing to the government to help extend the programme to other local government areas to engage the mind of youths and women to alleviate the hardship faced by the rural populace, the coordinator explained that within a short time, IFAD has created over 3500 jobs for youths and 502 for women in rice and cassava production in Benue.
gba lamented that the herdsmen/farmers crises has taken a negative toll on the programme, saying the attack on farmers started at the peak of harvesting rice which affected most of the farmers, therefore called for a viable cassava off- takers.
He appealed to the government to adopt VCDP procedure in select LGEAs, upscale the land development provision and as well as support mechanisation to encourage youths’ participation in agriculture.
On his part, the Commissioner of Agriculture and Natural Resources, James Abua said already, a memo for the payment of N188 million as the counterpart fund for IFAD and FADAMA III programme to run for two years have been submitted to the state EXCO.
He however commended the activities of IFAD in the state, especially in the cultivation of rice and and cassava and assured that its success would the replicated in other local government areas.