By FRANK OYAKHILOME
THE International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Country Programme Manager in Nigeria, Ms Atsuko Toda has revealed that it has launched its Climate Change Adaptation Agribusiness Support Programme to support farmers in seven northern states in a meeting with the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Audu Ogbeh in Abuja recently.
Toda who explained that the programme was a 70-million-dollar loan and 15 million dollars grant, making a total of 85 million dollars, noted that each state government would choose three priority value chains, including market, off-takers, processors, farmer organisation, production and capacity building, for the support.
Listing the benefiting states as Kebbi, Jegawa, Borno, Yobe, Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto, the Country Manager expressed her happiness, saying that the programme has started, as the National Programme Officers and some states officers have received their employment letters.
Toda explained further that the commission is looking at supporting in each Local Government Area, agric enterprise development, choosing the right youths, not for political reasons but those that are hungry to make a difference and to train other youths. She added that the commission will like to build on the previous experience of the Community-Based Agriculture Rural Development, where they had worked in about 12 local government areas of these states.
She noted that they will like to increase it by five, which means in each state, the commission will be covering more than half of the state, thereby covering a total of 104 local government areas across all the states through the support of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and all the state governments. She also express her joy that some states had already shown their commitment by paying counterpart funds in spite of the difficult economic times.
Ogbeh in his remark, appreciated IFAD for the support and pledged the Federal Government’s support to the fund, as he solicited the commitments of all the benefiting states to ensure that the programme achieved its objectives.
The Federal Agric Boss urged all the programme members of staff to put in their best in the implementation of the programme for the benefit of the country. He added that since the country cannot find help from commercial banks and yet we have to eat and develop small scale industries, any help given to the country must be accepted.
Ogbeh stressed that the days of five million dollars a day of rice importation and six million dollars a day of wheat importation are gone, we cannot afford that now and emphasized that the desert is coming and we need to stop it; grow more food, more rice, more wheat, more beans, we need to produce more milk and improve our breed of cattle. He further explained that all these have to be organised under such scheme IFAD has brought for us; we shall be visiting to see how you are progressing.
The Governor of Kebbi, Malam Atiku Bagadu, also speaking, reiterated that the years of policy reversal and misunderstanding of international trade had made the country a dumping ground and noted that Nigeria was competitive in most of the international traded commodities and that the production cost compared favourably with those of other countries.
Bagadu who stressed that countries that had been able to correctly fix their food chain systems employed appropriate measures to protect their farmers from other countries indenting to exploit and dump commodities, adding that we cannot afford to be swayed by any argument that allows our country to be a dumping ground; we have the ability to produce food and we must support our farmers to feed ourselves.