Abakaliki, April 23, 2019 Ebonyi Government has commended the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-assisted Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) for extending its operations to additional three Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that IFAD-VCDP operates in Afikpo South, Izzi, Ikwo, Ohaozara and Ishielu councils of the state but has extended its operations to Ivo, Ezza North and Ohaukwu LGAs.
Chief Moses Nome, Ebonyi Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, gave the commendation on Tuesday during the programme’s mission team’s visit to the state, noting that IFAD-VCDP has become a household name in the state.
Nome said that such extension would enable farmers in the new councils to benefit from IFAD-VCDP’s numerous interventions like those in the former five LGAs.
“You have fulfilled most of our requests as the addition of the new councils in your operations is a milestone which the government and people of the state appreciate.
“People do not easily embrace such programmes but that of IFAD-VCDP is aimed at lifting the standard of the rural farmers and enhancing agricultural production in the state,” he said.
He urged the programme to use the extension of its operations to the new councils to address the problem of matching grant payment experienced by farmers.
“The farmers find it difficult to pay the matching grant expected of them in accessing your interventions, so evolve new methods of assisting them in this situation.
“You have impacted much on our farmers, especially in the areas of rice and cassava cultivation as we assure that the government will offset all outstanding counterpart fund payments,” he said.
Mr Ben Odoemena, IFAD-VCDP Country Programme Officer, equally commended the political-will shown by the Ebonyi Government in agriculture, especially on the programme’s activities.
“We, however, urge the government to expedite action in offsetting its remaining counterpart fund payments to assist IFAD-VCDP execute its mandate in the state,” he said.
Mr Obinna Nwachukwu, Ebonyi Commissioner for Finance, promised that the state government would continue to support IFAD-VCDP with the payment of the outstanding counterpart fund payments.
“The lean resources of the state are being deployed into several projects and programmes but the government will do its best to support the programme.
“The outstanding payments have been captured in our budget and with the IFAD-VCDP team, meeting the governor over the issue, they would never be disappointed,” he said.
Mr Sunday Ituma, IFAD-VCDP State Programme Coordinator (SPC), noted that the programme budgeted over N466 million for 2019 and has made a total disbursement of N132 million between Jan. 1 and March 31, 2019.
“The total expenditure on IFAD loan is over N123 million, representing 34 per cent of IFAD funding in 2019,” he said.