Ben Ezechime, Enugu
The Federal Government and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), has commended the Enugu State Government for its efficient implementation of the FGN/IFAD-Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP).
The IFAD Team Lead, Prof. Lemchi Jones, gave the commendation during the IFAD VCDP-AF (additional financing) in Enugu during the Mid-term Review mission at various Local Government Areas of the five intervention areas of Aninri, Enugu East, Isi-Uzo, Nkanu East and Udenu.
He said that the VCDP beneficiaries put in their best and managed the resources within their disposal well.
“Based on what we saw during our visit to the processing centres and the interactive section with some stakeholders, we can say that the beneficiaries did well.
“The Mid-Term-Review (MTR) is aimed at assessing the programme performance in the state from all the various IFAD-VCDP operations to know what worked well, the challenges, expectations, what did not work well and the way forward to improve the Programme performance,” he said.
The team lead IFAD Mission on MTR urged the beneficiaries to remain committed, protect the facilities, practice cluster farming and tap into the various opportunities provided before the VCDP programme ends in 2024.
He promised to provide solutions to the identified challenges that was hindering the effective implementation of the programme.
The lead consultant thanked the State Government for its commitment in payment of the counterpart fund and for adoption of VCDP approach in the state.
He also thanked the government for supporting IFAD in achieving its set goals and objective in the state.
The MTR team had earlier visited Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi the Executive Governor of Enugu State at the Government House, Enugu (Lion Building) before going to the field.
Ugwuanyi, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) Prof. Simon Ortuanya, commended the Federal Government and IFAD for the support given to VCDP farmers in the state.
He said that the IFAD-VCDP programme aimed at ensuring food security and improving farmers’ livelihood, was in line with the agricultural revolution initiative of the state governor in increasing food production.
“Poverty is a disease and Federal Government’s policy of confronting poverty is a means of ensuring that this disease goes away,” he said.
He, therefore, seized the opportunity to appreciate the donor agency; IFAD for what they have done.
“We equally want to thank you for your kind words, you have spoken about the humble efforts we are making in ensuring that we keep pace with the Federal Government demands and expectations of the participating states in this Programme.
“We can only assure you that we will do better. We want to assure you of the commitment of the state to continue to sustain what you are doing,” Ugwuanyi said.
The State Programme Coordinator, VCDP, Dr. Edward Isiwu, said the mid-term review was to assess the performance in the area of project management quality; progress made by VCDP as well as identify the challenges faced by beneficiaries and the opportunities.
He said it was also to strengthen the programme and make it more effective in achieving VCDP’s objectives.
“It is to enhance income and food security of rural farming household engaged in rice and cassava value chain.”
Isiwu said that IFAD-VCDP is here in Enugu and other states to reduce rural poverty, increase food security and accelerate economic growth of women and youths of Enugu people on a sustainable basis.
He said, while delivering the seven hundred and twenty (720) days scorecard, that the objective of the programme is for the incomes and food security of poor rural households engaged in production, processing and marketing of rice and cassava in the five (5) targeted LGAs enhanced on a sustainable basis.
Mr Absallam Jamilo, who represented the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, reminded the beneficiaries of VCDP in Enugu State that, the programme supports producers only twice and allow them to stand on their own.
“Therefore you should be ready to continue even when the programme comes to an end,” he said.
Mr. Ede Shedrack Chijioke a member of Young Farmers Multipurpose Cooperative Society Ltd from Ikem in Isi Uzo Local Government Area expressed gratitude to IFAD VCDP for what they have done in the state.
He enumerated so many benefits he had received since the inception of the programme in Enugu.
According to him, “IFAD had trained me in so many capacities. I was trained in Umudike, Abia State as a cassava youth entrepreneur.
“They equally supported me with fifty (50) bundles of cassava stems of TME 419, four bags of fertilizers, and herbicides.
“Though I have not uprooted the cassava tubers but I have sold so much of the stems and generated lots of money.
“I remain ever grateful to IFAD-VCDP especially the State Programme Coordinator, Dr. Edward Isiwu,” he said.
However, not withstanding the achievements of the programme, many of the farmers organizations met in the field during the tour listed cost of labour, mechanization, transportation, bad road and some others as their major challenges.
The team lead, Prof. Lemchi, who felt excited on what IFAD-VCDP has achieved in the state promised to convey the messages of various groups to the donor agency.