How IFAD-VCDP is changing agricultural narratives in Kogi

It has been a new dawn for farmers in Kogi state as some counterpart agencies in collaboration with FG are changing lives positively. OYIBO SALIHU reports.

The federal government in collaboration with International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) embarked on Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) in several states of the country, including Kogi state.
Apparently, with an estimated 70 to 75 per cent of the total population of Nigeria living in the rural areas, agriculture is the mainstay among other economic activities.


Also, about 70 to 75 per cent of the total farming population is made up of smallholder farmers, each cultivating less than five hectares and producing up to 90 per cent of the total national output.
Despite this, poverty remains largely a rural phenomenon, with two-third of the rural population considered poor.
However, the goals and objectives of VDCP is to reduce rural poverty, increase food security and accelerate economic growth on a sustainable basis.


The specific programme development objective is that the incomes and food security of poor rural households engaged in production, processing and marketing for rice and cassava in the targeted Local Government Areas (LGAs), are enhanced on a sustainable basis.


The programme also seeks to adopt a holistic and demand-driven approach to addressing constraints along the cassava and rice value chains.


This however necessitates an inclusive strategy of capacity strengthening of actors along the chain (producers, processors and their organisations) as well as enablers (public and private institutions, service providers, policy and regulatory authorities).


In addition, strong emphasis is placed on developing commodity-specific Value Chain Action Plans at LGA level for specificity and which serve as the basis for rolling out relevant and sustainable activities.


The programme strategy is anchored on a longer-term vision of value chain development for poverty reduction and accelerated economic growth, setting the foundation for fundamental organisational and functional capacity of key actors in the agricultural sector.


The gradual transformation is also intended to contribute towards achieving food security, increased production and productivity, as well as expand income-generating activities and employment opportunities.

Giving an insight

Narrating the success story of the programme so far in Kogi, the state programme coordinator of IFAD-VCDP, Dr Stella Adejoh said Kogi IFAD/VCDP operations and activities in the state started fully barely two years ago with so much impact which are evident in the lives of the farmers.
According to her, for effective and efficient implementation of the IFAD-VCDP, the programme was designed and structured into three key components such as agricultural market development which is aimed at enhancing the profitability of small holder farmers and medium scale agro processor’s products through access to markets.


She added that the second component is the small holder farmers productivity enhancement on an economically and environmental sustainable basis, noting that the third component is project management and collaboration to ensure effective and efficient coordination of the key components of the programme.
The state coordinator highlighted some of the achievements so far made by Kogi IFAD-VCDP to cut across the five piloting benefitting local government areas in the state. This, she said include the provision of rice processing centre with a drying, parboiling shed slab at Kungbani cluster.
Also in order to assist rice processors at the centre, IFAD-VCDP provided solar- powered borehole drilled for Kungbani and its environs as well as provision of 1 and 300 KVA transformer to light up the community.


Dr Adejoh said, “A Market stall was also constructed for the marketers where passersby, travellers and others can purchase Gaskiya processed rice at Kungbani.


“Also provided by VCDP was the construction of creche, solar powered borehole, and a processing centre at Karara in Lokoja LGA.


“The Kogi VCDP had also established a dry season rice demonstration plot and constructed a market store in Ejule-Ojebe, market stall at Egah as well as solar powered borehole drying slab for rice farmers at Alukoina in Ibaji local government area of the state.
“Market stall and solar- powered borehole were also constructed for VCDP farmers in Oke-Dayo and Bolorunduro communities Creche, cassava processing centre and solar-powered borehole in Agululu in Kabba/Bunu LGA as well as rice processing centre, Creche, solar-powered borehole, drying slab and access road/culvert in ASCO camp and a creche at Geregu in Ajaokuta LGA.”

Impactful projects

Conscious of farmers challenges, solar-powered borehole and a creche were also provided for Garri processors at Igah-Ikeje and Ogugu communities as well as market stall in Imane community in Olamaboro LGA as the communities are known for cassava production.


Other projects and programmes carried out by Kogi IFAD-VCDP include cultivation of 390 hectares of land for dry season farming at Karara community in Kogi LGA.
Several Advocacy and training programmes had also been conducted to sensitise small household farmers on the adaptation and mitigation measure on climate change.


As a deliberate measure to ensure youth and women participation in the project implementation, Kogi IFAD-VCDP sponsored 20 youths on entrepreneurship at the National Institute of Roots and Tubers for training in the production of cassava stems and seed multiplication in Badegi, Niger state.


Also, conscious of the role of partnership in networking for the success of the project development objective, Kogi IFAD-VCDP entered into bilateral partnership with some reputable organisations and stakeholders for project implementation.
The organisations include UNICANE, CREST AGRO, VERTEX NIG LTD, JOSAN. Seed Council, NRCRI, NCRI BADEGI, among others.


There is also the purchase of equipment support to small scale processor organisation with medium size rice milling, polishing machine at Gaskiya, ASCO camp, Egah and Odogwu clusters.


Provision of trailer tricycles to processor organisation for transporting of commodities from the farms in Kungbani, Bolorunduro, Ogugu, Ejule and Ojebe clusters; provision of quality control tools and equipment to Gaskiya, ASCO camp, Odogwu and Egah rice processors with Apron, moisture meter and hand gloves, promotion of renewable energy, waste to wealth enterprise (effluent management, animal feed and bio-digester) at Iga-Ikeje and Kabba/Bunu; equipment support to cassava processors with mild steel manual garri fryer at Igah-Ikeje, Bolorunduro, Ogugu and city steel, construction of culvet at Ajaokuta processing centre for erosion control; provision and installation of 300KVA power transformers at Kungbani and ASCO camp; construction of parboiling shade and drying slabs for rice farmers at Alokoina and Kungbani, input support through matching grant for seeds, fertiliser and herbicides for wet season rice farming; input support through matching grant for seeds, stem cuttings, fertiliser and herbicides for cassava.


Establishment of farmers field business schools (FFBs) for rice farmers; land development at Geregu-Ajaokuta; Akpamoba-Lokoja; Ogugu-Olamaboro; and Edumo-Kabba/Bunu LGAs.


Dr Adejor attributed these achievements attained within two years to the commitment, political will and the sgriculture-friendly governor of the state who has consistently given his nods to the programme in the state.
Beneficiaries at different fora showered encomium on the state government for creating the enabling environment and full support for the implementation of the IFAD-VCDP activities in Kogi.


Appreciations

At ASCO camp cluster farm, Rabi Abdullahi, the women leader thanked the federal and state governments for lifting the rural farmers out of poverty.
She stressed that the rural farmers had been empowered on best agronomy practices which has enhanced their yield and productivity in cassava and rice value chain.


On her part, Rebecca Sule, the youth leader, said VCDP had trained them on balanced diet and how to minimise cost in processing their food products for sales with high quality nutrients.
Sule an unemployed graduate said through the programme she was able to acquire knowledge on processing and packaging of food products.


Also speaking, Zuwaira Abubakar, a widow and gari processor said VCDP had trained them on saving culture and how to make variety of products from gari as well as standard measurement and packaging.
”Before the coming of this programme my three children were out of school because of lack of fund, but through the VCDP programme, my children are now back to school. We thank our president, governor and Dr Stella Adejoh for using this programme to bring us out of poverty and penury,” she said.


For Armstrong Shaibu, a physically-challenged and one of the beneficiaries of the tricycle provided by IFAD-VCDP, his dependence on family and friends to survive is now over, noting that though physically- challenged, he is mentally able and capable to chart a way for himself.
He commended VCDP for creating equal opportunities for people irrespective of age, gender and status. He promised to make judicious use of the tricycle to sustain himself as well as raise income for expansion of his business.

UNI Agric Markurdi
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