Nigeria’s agricultural sector is on the verge of receiving a massive boost as the International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD divulged their readiness towards scaling up its intervention within the nation’s agricultural sector.
Nadine Gbossa, the Nigeria Representative of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD revealed this information to the press shortly after visiting the IFAD supported Aliade Rice Processing Mill in Gwer East L. G. A of the middle belt state, Benue.
She claimed that the team visited the Benue, considering the fact that the state has a major role to play when it comes to IFAD projects.
“We have seen that when there is a market, production can really be stepped up because they know that there is a market to buy. We are very happy with what we have seen.
“We have seen the involvement of farmers and also the youths coming in and we need to ensure that this is sustainable and that we can engage the youths in agriculture because as you know they were not very focused on agriculture but we now can see that the youths are very enthusiastic about it
Gbossa also stressed the involvement of the government in the project, stating that the government requested the organisation extends the programme and also pointing out the necessity for creating awareness to add value. Thus, also claiming that things are been done for the benefit of Nigerian farmers .
“We also saw that women are very involved as well, they are over half of the farming population so we need to pay attention to them to see how they can be encouraged to produce more, to process more and to sell more. And I think the farmers are interested in it and they wouldn’t do that if they were not making profit at the end of the chain.
“That is what we are seeing here and after that we have to sit down and see how we can scale up. We have seen a good experience and the issue now is how do we scale up?
“We are actually excited by what we have seen, it is a successful intervention by IFAD and the government of Nigeria.
“We have been going to different states and we have seen how this programme has increased incomes and the standard of living of farmers.
She further said, “the youths are going back to the business of agriculture because there is something for them to make out of it. We are now trying to get more women to benefit from this opportunity.
“I must point out that IFAD has been a partner with the government of Nigeria for decades. We have received the request for the programme to be scaled up. We are also working with other development partners to see how we can bring that about. But the onus lies with the government of Nigeria.
Gbossa further ensured that IFAD is committed to a second phase and it is for the nation’s government to put aside resources to scale it up. She states that the organisation is working on this in partnership with the government and making efforts to take it to the phase two, which is meaningful for the farmers, for the youths and for the women.
IFAD are also deepening intervention from what they have presently, with the optimistic belief that they can achieve more as the major plan of the body is to yield positive result.
Meanwhile, the Director, Projects Coordinating Unit, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Maimuna Habib was impressed about the positive impacts of the programme in the state.
“Like we observed in our earlier meeting, most of their challenges have been met, we have told them where to go to, who to contact, even the State Ministry of Agriculture has told the farmers that the state has some tractors that they would sell to them at subsidized prices.
“Moreover the value chain is for rice and cassava and we don’t want the cassava farmers to be discouraged.
Prominent faces in the government were also present at the event as the Benue state Commissioner of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mr. Hyacinth Nyakuma also stressed about the effectiveness of the programme on the lives of benefitting farmers in the state.
“The programme is a good one. The partnership between IFAD, the federal, state governments and the farmers is a good development. In the case of Benue state, so far the programme has succeeded.
“We all heard what the farmers said by themselves in the meeting that it has impacted on their personal lives and it has also impacted their households. I must reiterate that the contributions of he state government has been outstanding that is why we have this kind of success story.
“As far as the state government is concern, the programme is a continuous one as far as funding is concerned. The government would continue to make our counterpart funds available to ensure an improvement on the value chain system that is place and also bring on board more crops as I had earlier suggested so that more farmers would participate, ” Nyiakuma said.