…As governor seeks partnership for world-class rice mills in the state
The international Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD, a specialised international agency of the United Nations, UN, for eradicating poverty and hunger in developing countries, has commended the Dr. Peter Mbah administration for its commitment to fighting rural poverty in Enugu State.
It also said the prompt release by the administration of the N274 million counterpart fund for IFAD’s Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) would ensure the effective continuation of the programme in Enugu State.
This was even as Governor Peter Mbah made a case for increased funding to boost intervention in the provision of access roads and world class rice mills for farmers in the state.
The IFAD Country Director for Nigeria, Mrs. Dede Ekoue, gave the commendation during a courtesy visit to the governor on the sidelines of the launch of the 10th supervision mission for the IFAD/VCDP development programme in Enugu State.
She said the programme in Enugu State was reaching more than 5,000 families, among which more than 50 per cent were women, while 30 per cent were young farmers, producers, processors and traders.
“The time is really a positive time because you have taken an action that is strong for this programme by ensuring that all the counterpart fundings are being released and it is really important because it will allow the programme to scale up its impact.
“This release of the counterpart funding demonstrates your strong commitment to fighting rural poverty because we know that your agenda is to have zero per cent poverty in your state.
“This counterpart funding payment, also, is a clear signal of your determination to re-energise agriculture and agro-industry in general.
“We are here to express our deep appreciation to you for this, and we want to renew IFAD’s commitment to work closely with all the partners involved, to scale up the impact of this programme”.
The IFAD Country Director said the programme would continue to leverage on the strength and services provided by the Enugu State Government as well as the strong investment of the farmers, producers, and processors to succeed.
On his part, Dr. Mbah reiterated the commitment of his administration to ensure the enhancement of income for rural dwellers, create food security, and have enough to export to the world.
“Beyond food security, we are also looking at exports. We want to make Enugu State the export hub for food.
“So, the objective of the IFAD/VCDP programme in general is something that we are very much interested in, and which is why we spared no time in making sure we put in place our counterpart funds because we have made humongous projections of where we want to see Enugu in the next 4 to 8 years.
“A lot of that growth will come from the agriculture and agro-allied industrialisation sector. We believe that with the set of partnerships we have with IFAD, this will be realised.
“We want to unlock our rural economy, and we want to scale up our production; and in scaling up our production, it means that we will have to add value to the things we are producing, which is why the VCDP is a welcome programme for us”.
He however appealed for more funding by IFAD to scale up agricultural production and value-addition in the state.
“We have a risk factor being access to the farms, as most of the post-harvest losses that we have to deal with are largely because of access.
“We see a lot of efforts from the state government, but certainly, we are also expecting that we are going to get support from you in constructing these access roads to the farmlands so we can expand our scale, but above all, be able to easily move those produce outside without much worries.
“We are also looking at expansion in terms of IFAD coverage. You are intervening currently in five local government areas. So, we are hoping that this would be expanded because our plan is to scale up production across the state. We are building land banks across the local governments. We are also zoning these land banks, and positioning them for different crops. I know that your bias is cassava and rice, and we are quite ambitious on those two crops as well”.
The governor equally sought the intervention of IFAD in building world class rice mills across the State, pledging the readiness of his administration to continue to provide the needed counterpart funds to effective partnership with IFAD and other international development agencies.