The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has launched its Climate Change Adaptation Agribusiness Support Programme to support farmers in seven northern states.
IFAD’s Country Programme Manager in Nigeria, Ms Atsuko Toda, made the development known in a meeting with the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Audu Ogbeh in Abuja on Thursday.
Toda explained that the programme was a 70-million-dollar loan and 15 million dollars grant, making a total of 85 million dollars.
The manager listed the benefiting states as Kebbi, Jigawa, Borno, Yobe, Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto.
She said each state government would choose three priority value chains, including market, off-takers, processors, farmer organisation, production and capacity building, for the support.
“I am very happy to say that the programme has started and to report that the National Programme Officers and some states officers have received their employment letters.
“We are looking at supporting in each Local Government Area, agric enterprise development, choosing the right youths, not for political reasons but those that are hungry to make a difference and to train other youths.
“We will like to build on the previous experience of the Community-Based Agriculture Rural Development, where we worked in about 12 local government areas of these states.
“We will like to increase it by five, which means in each state, we will be covering more than half of the state.
“We are looking at covering a total of 104 local government areas across all the states through the support of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and all the state governments,’’ Toda said.
She said that some states had already shown their commitment by paying counterpart funds in spite of the difficult economic times.
In his remark, Ogbeh appreciated IFAD for the support and pledged the Federal Government’s support to the fund.
Ogbeh solicited the commitments of all the benefiting states to ensure that the programme achieved its objectives.
The minister urged all the programme members of staff to put in their best in the implementation of the programme for the benefit of the country.
“Any help given to us now for food production we must take it; we cannot find help from commercial banks and yet we have to eat and develop small scale industries.
“The days of five million dollars a day of rice importation and six million dollars a day of wheat importation are gone, we cannot afford that now.
“The desert is coming and we need to stop it; we need to grow more food, more rice, more wheat, more beans, we need to produce more milk and improve our breed of cattle.
“All these have to be organised under such scheme IFAD has brought for us; we shall be visiting to see how you are progressing,’’ he said
Also speaking, the Governor of Kebbi, Malam Atiku Bagadu, said years of policy reversal and misunderstanding of international trade had made the country a dumping ground.
He said Nigeria was competitive in most of the international traded commodities, saying that the production cost compared favourably with those of other countries.
Bagadu said countries that had been able to correctly fix their food chain systems employed appropriate measures to protect their farmers from other countries indenting to exploit and dump commodities.
“We cannot afford to be swayed by any argument that allows our country to be a dumping ground; we have the ability to produce food and we must support our farmers to feed ourselves.
“We have our processors who are ready to add value to what we produce and we have competent international organisations like IFAD who are ready to support us with capacity building,’’ he said