Niger promises to sustain IFAD-VCDP

Governor Niger State
Abubakar Sani Bello,

THE government of Niger has promised to ensure prompt counterfunding of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) assisted Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) to sustain the programme in the state.

Gov. Abubakar Bello of the state gave the assurance on Thursday in Minna during a courtesy visit by the IFAD-VCDP Mid-Term Review team to the state led by Dr Polenakis George.

“I want to assure you that Niger is passionate about the IFAD-VCDP, I know we have not done very well in terms of payment of our counterpart funds.

“I want to assure you that we will check what we are owing in terms of counterpart funds.

“The payment of the counterpart funds is no longer going to be an issue.

“I am sure that this time around we are going to pay the money but just to make out the figure we are owing,” he said.

Bello who was represented by Alhaji Ahmed Matane, the Secretary to the State Government, said that he was delighted that the VCDP had exposed farmers in the state to Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) thereby improving their production, processing and marketing capacity and also increased their wealth.

“Before the intervention of the VCDP in Niger, we were doing 1.7 hectares of rice per year but with the intervention we are now doing seven tonnes.

“Right now with the irrigation farming in the dry season you can do rice up to three circles in a year,” he said.

He said that cassava farmers in the state produced 10,000 hectares per annum before the intervention of the VCDP but with the intervention they cultivate 30,000 hectares of land.

The governor urged the VCDP to support farmers in the state who had been affected by flood as the state was prone to the natural disaster.

He lauded Mr Mathew Ahmed, the State Programme Coordinator, VCDP, and his team for working tirelessly to ensure the success recorded in the state.

Bello noted that since the VCDP added nutrition, environmental issues and empowerment of women and youth to the programme, it had recorded huge success.

Also speaking, Dr Polenakis George, IFAD-VCDP, Mid-Term Review Team Lead to the state, decried mode of counterpart payment by the state government.

George said that the VCDP was already helping the Kwakuti Women Rice Processing Centre in the state to become agri-business owners.

Earlier, Dr Mathew Ahmed, the State Programme Coordinator IFAD-VCDP, said that the programme trained farmers in the state on agri-business to enable them to expand and sustain their activities.

Ahmed said that the project which started in 2014 began implementation of activities in March 2015 in the state.

He said that the project which was supposed to wind-up in December 2019 was extended to December 2024 due to its success and the large number of farmers who benefitted from it.

Mr Adamu Ahmadu, Secretary, Kwakuti Women Rice Processing Centre, benefitting from the VCDP said that before the intervention of the programme the group processed more than 15 bags of rice paddy per month but with the intervention “they now process 150 bags of rice paddy”.

IFAD-VCDP is a collaboration among federal government, IFAD and nine participating states of Anambra, Benue, Enugu State, Ebonyi, Kogi, Niger, Nasarawa State, Taraba and Ogun.

There are more than 33,000 VCDP farmers in Niger, spread across the eight benefiting local government areas of Bida, Katcha, Kontagora, Shiroro, Edati, Borgu, Wushishi and Mokwa.(NAN)