The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has provided US$ 1,105,916.00 in grants to vulnerable smallholder farmers in Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) states of Enugu, Kogi, Nasarawa, Anambra, Benue, Niger, Taraba and Ebonyi to sustain production and help them recover more quickly from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
VCDP is a project of the Government of Nigeria funded by IFAD and domiciled in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The project aims to improve incomes and food security of poor rural households engaged in production, processing and marketing of rice and cassava on a sustainable basis. The IFAD’s grant- the COVID-19 Rural Poor Stimulus Facility (RPSF) is in line with the UN support framework for socio-economic response to COVID-19 and to support the Government of Nigeria to buffer the disruptions on the livelihoods of the most vulnerable smallholders and national food systems.
The RPSF Agricultural stimulus and resilience packages includes agro inputs (certified seeds, NPK/Urea fertilizers and herbicides) to support smallholder production. Through VCDP-supported extension services, targeted farmers will benefit from trainings on good agronomic practices in the application of fertilizers and agro-chemicals as well as farm management and climate smart agriculture.
Speaking at the flag off ceremony of the agro inputs distribution to the vulnerable farmers in Kogi State, VCDP National Programme Coordinator, Dr Fatima Aliyu said the RPSF is expected to provide relief to 3,243 vulnerable smallholders across VCDP states.
”The support of IFAD in our quest to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic impact on the country’s economy, particularly on the agricultural sector is one which we both recognize and appreciate” said Dr Aliyu.
Dr Aliyu expressed gratitude to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) under the leadership of the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, who is conscientiously implementing FMARD’s COVID-19 Agricultural Mitigation and Sustainability Plan aimed at addressing the impact of the pandemic on Nigerian farmers.
“The Facility will ensure that farmers have timely access to inputs, information, and markets. By supporting smallholders to mitigate this crisis through a market-led approach, basic farming activities will be sustained, paving the ground for longer-term post-COVID-19 crisis recovery and resilience,” said Mrs Dede Ekoue, IFAD Nigeria Country Director.
“I am very happy to be among the beneficiaries of this support by IFAD. The agro-inputs I received will enable me to cultivate the one hectare of rice I have. I will be able to increase my income and food security despite the COVID -19 pandemic,” said Mariam Abubakar, a farmer from Kabawa Community, Lokoja in Kogi State.
Since 1985, IFAD has financed 11 projects in Nigeria for a total of $ 1,136, 860,000 including $ 510.56 million from IFAD’s own resources, directly benefitting nearly 3.9 million Nigerian rural households.