By Turning Point Reporters
The Market and Enterprise Development Advisor of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) assisted Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) Hajiya Fatima Mukhtar Buhari has said that the Ebonyi office of the programme has done it proud.
The national officer who is President Muhammadu Buhari’s daughter said this during a working visit to the state, noting that the Ebonyi office has contributed tremendously to the attainment of the programme’s goals.
She noted that the largest rice cluster in West Africa—the Abakaliki rice mill is a major off-taker of rice paddy for VCDP farmers.
“The VCDP has played a significant role through collaboration and sensitisation, in packaging and bagging of rice for the Ebonyi rice world among others which has increased patronages for the companies across the country and in turn increased their turnover.
“The Ebonyi office has done an excellent job in realising the programmes’ goals despite challenges as I thank the Ebonyi government and its people for actively supporting the programme.
The Enterprise Development Advisor said that the unwavering commitment of the state government to IFAD—VCDP programmes has contributed to its successful implementation and this includes the payment of counterpart funds.
“When I toured some participating communities in the state, I saw commitment from benefiting farmers, hosts communities among other stakeholders as they put heads together to ensure that the benefits of the programme are maximized.
“I also commend the state government for its massive infrastructural strides as the peace and quietness I experienced everywhere makes me wonder whether I was in Dubai.
She said that the progarmme has an estimated total beneficiaries of 100, 000 households, 91, 000 small holder farmers, 8, 000 processors among others and has increased its operations from six to nine states.
Governor David Umahi in his remarks during a reception for the President’s daughter, assured that the state was committed in ensuring food sustainability and unity of the country.
“We will invite you and your husband to the state in December to commission agricultural-related projects.
“I have always insisted that any Nigerian—from the south or north especially born and brought up in Ebonyi, is automatically an indigene of the state and will enjoy all benefits.
Barr Kelechi Igwe, Ebonyi state Deputy Governor said that IFAD-VCDP has been part of the state’s success story in agricultural revolution with its declaration of return to the farm on assuming office in 2015.
“Your focal person in the state–Sunday Ituma has done excellently well and the governor has put him on his toes since 2015 to quadruple whatever that has kept him in the office since then, in achieving IFAD-VCDP goals.
“Since then he hardly sleeps: if he is not on the field, he is doing paper-work so that the national office will find no reason to say that he has not complied with its directive.
Mr Sunday Ituma, the State Programme Coordinator (SPC) of IFAD VCDP said that the encomiums poured on the Ebonyi office of the programme will spur it to consolidate on its gains towards achieving the programme’s objectives.
“We thank the state government for all its support to the programme since assuming office and this has resulted in the numerous achievements we have recorded.
“We have supported 20, 863 farmers in the state with matching grants which amount to over N1billion and this support has generated over N10.7billion into the pockets of the farmers.