Vanguard - Apapa,Lagos,Nigeria
Written by Chinyere Amalu
Thursday, 27 November 2008
The International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) has earmarked the sum of $200 million to strengthen and step up agricultural sector in Nigeria.Of this amount over $100 million has been disbursed for on-going projects on agriculture between the Federal Government and IFAD, while $50 million would be invested in improving and processing cassava in the country.
IFAD is a specialized financial agency of the United Nations (UN) focusing exclusively on poor farmers and rural communities with the aim to reduce poverty in the rural areas.
Vice President and Programme Management Divison IFAD, Mr. Kelvin Cleaver, who is in Abuja with other principal officers of IFAD, for a 2-day National Round Table workshop on evaluation of the development activities in Nigeria , disclosed this to journalists yesterday in Abuja at a pre-press briefing for the workshop.
According to him, the grants is for IFAD and government of Nigeria to intensify development of agricultural sector in the country, suggesting that there should be future collaboration between the two parties to assist small farmers in processing, production and marketing of their products and have access to loan facilities.
“IFAD is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN). We have budgeted $3.5 billion grant for disbursement worldwide, but $6.50 million grant is earmarked for this year. Out of this Nigeria got $200 million.
“Our main collaborator is Government, but we can partner with private sectors whose fundamentals are to assist small farmers, but a large grant goes to the Federal Government for now”, he explained.
Buttressing more on the grants budgeted for Nigeria , the Regional Portfolio Adviser and CPM Nigeria, Perin Saint Ange, explained $200 million $100 million has been disbursed, $50 million earmarked for processing of agriculture, while million is still awaiting further projects.
On why IFAD is more into cassava production, he said about 26 states in Nigeria especially from the East is into cassava farming, adding that this gives a fair coverage and needed concentration to achieve a meaningful development.
“Majority of people from this area have indeed focused all of its energy in improving the production capacity and quality of the cassava crop to the neglect of the processing system and marketing of the crop.
“About $50 million is still in the envelope to address as a priority the processing and marketing of cassava in particular and others which could be yams that would add value.
“IFAD is hailed for the huge part played in the 70’s when the nation’s cassava production sector was challenged by cassava mosaic and is also credited for revolutionalizing the cassava production industry”, he explained.
He pointed out that apart from cassava produce that has dominated their scope; IFAD has concentrated in artisan fisheries, which according to him would bring benefits to small farmers.
On why IFAD is not directly into business with private sectors, he explained that all the small handlers they work with are private sectors, adding that 75% of all IFAD resources go to private sectors who work with disadvantaged groups the rural communities.
On the objective of the workshop, he said it is aimed at discussing key issues emerging from Country Programme Evaluation (CPE) and to provide inputs for the preparation of CPE’s agreement at completion points.
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