By Chukwuemeka Opara
Abakaliki, Sept.7, 2020 The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) -assisted Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) has earmarked over N2 billion to support farmers in Ebonyi during this year’s farming season, an official has said.
The state Programme Coordinator of IFAD-VCDP, Mr Sunday Ituma, disclosed this in an interview with newsmen in Abakiliki on Monday.
Ituma said that the intervention was being sponsored in collaboration with the Federal Government.
He said the objective was to stimulate the economy through the provision of agro-inputs to more than 3,000 farmers in the state.
“This intervention, which is through our annual marching grant scheme, will enable us to provide agro-chemicals, fertilizers, improved seeds for rice and cuttings for cassava to farmers for the 2020 farming season.
“The farmers have been accessing these inputs through their various cooperative societies and the intervention will hopefully impact positively on the production of rice and cassava in the state.
“The projection is based on expected yield and what the prices of food items are going to be at the end of this farming season.
“We are confident that the intervention will improve the farmers’ means of livelihood, increase their income generation and ensure food sufficiency for their families,” Ituma said.
He said that the intervention included 50kg of improved rice seeds, four bags of NPK and two bags of Urea brands of fertilizers, two litres of selective and non-selective agro-chemicals each for rice farmers on a one-hectare basis.
He said that cassava farmers got 50 bundles of improved cassava cuttings, four bags of NPK brand of fertilizers and two litres of selective and non-selective agro-chemicals each,” he said.
Ituma said that the programme’s national office also introduced some innovations to aid the implementation process in 2020 by engaging a reputable supply chain manager from the International Fertilizer Development Centre, an American-based company.
“This company has an African Office in Ghana, while our national office also introduced lots of technological innovations to improve the distribution process and make it 100 per cent transparent.
“Each benefiting farmer captured in the programme’s data base has been provided with an automated teller (card) for input redemption, while the agro-dealers have also been provided with such cards.
“The farmers visit the various redemption centres with their cards and when slotted into the machine, their particulars are displayed to confirm their identities and that all redemption requirements were met.
“The information will then be transmitted to the agro-dealer to release the input to the farmer. “These are done through the collaboration of the supply chain managers,” Ituma said.
He thanked the Ebonyi government for its support to the programme and promised that the intervention would be sustained to enhance food production in the state.