The United Nations’ agency, International Fund for Agricultural Development is making funding interventions through its private sector financing programme, designed to promote increased investment into small-scale agriculture especially in rural communities in developing countries.
This is part of IFAD’s efforts to combat food insecurity globally.
During a media parley in Enugu, the Enugu State Coordinator of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Dr. Edward Isiwu said that a total of 104 small-holder farmers have been engaged through the IFAD Value Chain Development Programme (IFAD-VCDP) which commenced in the last quarter of 2020 in the state.
Isiwu said the programme which is aimed at building capacity of rice and cassava farmers and other forms of interventions in the State, has made food production receive a major boost in the state.
He disclosed that the organization, which is domiciled in the State Ministry of Agriculture and natural Resources, has the target to make Enugu the hub of the staple and cash crops in Nigeria.
The coordinator who called for media partnership with the organization in the effort to use the two major crops- rice and vitamin-A rich cassava to eradicate hunger, as well as boost the State’s economy, disclosed that other value chain additions and derivatives from the two crops would also be made known to small-holder farmers.
He said that technically, the IFAD-VCDP programme is using transfer of best agronomy and processing practices, market visibility/reach, extension services intervention and financial inclusion for farmers, adding that part of the IFAD-VCDP target is to first make the state sufficient in the crops and lift thousands of small-holder farmers out of hunger and poverty through best modern agricultural practices.
Isiwu said, “Basically, IFAD-VCDP is targeting small-holder farmers belonging to farming organizations/cooperatives (mostly women and youths), having less than five hectares of farmlands for rice and cassava production.
“In Enugu State, we have selected five pilot council areas, based on established criteria, mapped out by the designers of the IFAD-VCDP programme. The pilot council areas, producing these two crops, included: Aninri, Isiuzo and Nkanu East (for rice production and value chain addition) and Enugu East and Udenu (for cassava production and value chain addition).
“We introduce and provide them with best agronomy practices, climate smart agriculture and other basic farm business knowledge at the group/organisational training or workshop level.
“Then we follow them to the farms by providing matching grant support for high-yielding and weather-friendly seedlings and agro-inputs that will increase the tons per hectare to about an additional 2.5 tons of any given rice or cassava farmland.”
He noted that they also support farmers by “providing matching grant support for high-yielding and weather-friendly seedlings and agro-inputs that will increase the tons per hectare to about an additional 2.5 tons of any given rice or cassava farmland.”
The organization according to the coordinator, equally assists farmers linking them with “committed off-takers and markets for these produce so that the farmers will get value for investment in good time and ensure continuous farming.