The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)—assisted Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP), has said that the expansion of its scope of operation to Ebonyi was visible.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the programme is currently operational in only five Local Government Areas (LGA) of the state, namely: Ohaozara, Ikwo, Izzi, Ishiellu and Afikpo South.
Mr Ameh Onoja, IFAD—VCDP National Programme Coordinator (NPC), made this disclosure on Saturday in Abakaliki while leading the programme’s national officer on a mid-term review of its activities in the state.
Onoja while responding to the Ebonyi Government’s persistent plea for the expansion of its scope of operations in the state, assured of the possible expansion to other council areas of the state.
“The programme is on a six-year period and with the midterm review after three years of intervention, we will review our activities to determine issues such as expansion to more councils and states of the federation.
“The programme is market and demand driven, operated on procedures and processes and this external assessment would adequately evaluate our performances in the past three years.
“The outcome of the evaluation, which hopefully will be positive, will ensure the programme’s sustenance through the active involvement of various donors and relevant governments’ participation.
“Ebonyi is one state, where IFAD has performed creditably and when such outcomes become positive, there would be room for expansion to other councils of the state and by extension, other states of the federation,” he said.
He urged beneficiaries of IFAD–VCDP interventions such as in road projects, to see such facilities as theirs and adequately maintain them especially during the rainy season.
“We have extensively trained and equipped some beneficiaries on road maintenance and they are expected in collaboration with community members, to maintain the roads, clear the drains and culverts among other maintenance activities.
“They are also expected to evolve self sustaining measures such as savings to prepare for our intervention’s stoppage and to access credit facilities from other sources,” he said.
Prof Jones Nlemchi, the leader of the midterm review team, lauded the Ebonyi Government for its commitment towards the success of IFAD—VCDP activities, describing it as ‘unparalleled’.
“The quality of devotion from the state agricultural team is tremendous as government officials and relevant stakeholders were present at all the projects and communities we visited with commensurate contributions.
“The state IFAD-VCDP coordinator also personally led us to our project sites in all benefiting communities and was recognised by all the beneficiaries, which has not happened in some states of our intervention.
“The state governor’s strides on infrastructure, have also assisted our programmes because such is key to agricultural transformation including the governor’s personal devotion to our programmes,” he said.
He said that Ebonyi was one of the states that used to pay its counterpart funds promptly and implored the governor to expeditiously offset the arrears of two years of the payment.
“The government should also review its off-taking arrangement to ensure a free value chain—market, attract post harvest actors, ensure availability of the produce and reduce price,” he said.
Prof. Ndubisi Idenyi, the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the Governor on Agricultural Services, assured the team that the governor would be prevailed upon to offset the arrears of the counterpart fund payment.
Mr Sunday Ituma, IFAD—VCDP State Programme Coordinator (SPC), expressed happiness on the successful completion of the midterm review, describing it as an essential part of the programme’s implementation.
“We presented the programmes we implemented, which the team inspected in the various communities before conducting a wrap-up session where they highlighted our areas of strength and weakness,” he said.
Mrs Elizabeth Edu, Apex Rice Value Chain Group Chairperson of Izzi LGA, called for urgent step to solve the irrigation challenges facing the beneficiaries in order to ensure all year round farming activities.