IFAD-VCDP links cassava farmers to off-takers in Enugu State

The International Fund for Agricultural Development-Value Chain Development Programme (IFAD-VCDP) Enugu State, on Sunday, connected one of its farmer groups to agro input dealer for sale of cassava tubers.

The organisation linked a Real Deal Multipurpose Cooperative Society Limited to off-takers, Bufio and Paul International Ultimate Limited, where over six tonnes of cassava tubers were sold to the company.

It would be recalled that IFAD-VCDP and the company had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to buy cassava tubers directly from its farmers.

Speaking with newsmen after the off-taking exercise at Agbogazi Nike, Enugu East Council Area, the State Programme Coordinator (SPC) IFAD-VCDP, Dr Edward Isiwu, said the action became necessary to check a situation where farmers sell their produce at give away prices.

Isiwu, represented by the State Business And Market Development Officer, Mr Arinze Omeje, added that IFAD-VCDP was determined to ensure that farmers in Enugu had value for their money.

He recalled that IFAD-VCDP had in 2023 supported the group with three hectares of cassava inputs; 12 bags of NPK fertilizers, six litres of non-selective herbicides, and 150 bundles of TME 419 cassava stem.

Isiwu said the group doubled the expectations and added another hectare making it four hectares with a market value of N10 million after sales.

“IFAD-VCDP is supporting farmers in five Local Government Areas in Enugu State along the value chain of rice and cassava.

“Before now, farmers usually sell their produce at give away prices. The middlemen often take advantage of this to buy produce at low prices even when the prevailing market prices are higher.

“This is already becoming a history, as we have taken this bold action to connect our farmers to buyers for value for their money,” he said.

The coordinator added that farmers sold their cassava tubers at their farms thereby increasing profit for them and minimizing expenses.

“IFAD VCDP Enugu is pleased to have signed MoU with Bufio and Paul International Ultimate Ltd and is willing to do more. This, no doubt, would boost the morale of our farmers and encourage people to pick interest in farming”.

He also said they had engaged more buyers and cassava processors within and outside the state and linked them up with VCDP farmers to end monopoly and issue of down pricing.

“This is why we were here to witness the cassava off-taking activity between Real Deal Multipupose Cooperative Society Limited and Bufio and Paul International Ultimate LTD.

Isiwu encouraged farmers to remain resolute, noting that more support would be provided to ensure that the people had enough to eat.

“In 2023, we supported the group because of their proactive and dedication to farming activity and with this kind of yield and effort by the members, it is clear that they have understood that agriculture is a business to hold on to.

“So we expect a sustainable farming culture from our farmers, IFAD VCDP wants them to see agriculture as a business that they should build with trust and good relationships that can lead to contract farming agreement between farmers, Off-taker and Input Agro-dealers,” he said.

The Chairman, Real Deal Multipurpose Cooperative Society Limited, Mr Chukwudi Omulu, attributed the success to the support the group received from IFAD-VCDP.

“To us, we are very happy that we have organisations like IFAD. They supported us immensely both with agro inputs, such as chemicals, fertilizers and equally supporting us ahead.

“They also helped us to source for better buyers that will bring money, better money. So, they are helping a lot,” Omelu stated.

He encouraged Nigerians to go into farming, especially cassava, describing it as another hidden oil well in Nigeria, he said.

NAN / Foluke Ibitomi

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