“The commissioners for agriculture and natural resources, commerce and industries including finance were present in our interactive meetings including the senior special assistants to the governor on rice and that of agricultural services, among others.
Ebonyi state commended for implementing agricultural initiative

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-assisted Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) has commended the Ebonyi government’s active involvement in the programme’s implementation in the state.

Dr Benjamin Okpukpara, Team Leader of the programme’s 6th Mission Assessment Team to Ebonyi disclosed this on Thursday.

He said that the state was the most actively involved among all the programme’s six participating states in the country.

Okpukpara, who described such involvement as ‘buy-in’, said that the turnout and active involvement of government functionaries in its activities “is unprecedented’’.

“The Speaker of the State House of Assembly accompanied us to inspect some of our projects in Izzi Local Government Area and this speaks volume of the government’s passion for IFAD—VCDP’s activities.

“The commissioners for agriculture and natural resources, commerce and industries including finance were present in our interactive meetings including the senior special assistants to the governor on rice and that of agricultural services, among others.

“They made useful contributions and observations that will  assist IFAD—VCDP flourish in the state and meet its objectives towards its beneficiaries.

“The various government interventions in the state and the passion of these government officials are responsible for the feats we have recorded in Ebonyi as tales of successes were heard everywhere we went,” he said.

The team leader remarked that such ‘buy-in’ was also aptly demonstrated by the beneficiaries who reeled the positive impact on their lives by IFAD-VCDP interventions.

“We were treated with fanfare in the areas we visited as some openly declared that they would have voted for IFAD-sVCDP if it was contesting in the 2019 general elections,” he said.

He however noted that the mission was satisfied with the programme’s implementation in the state and would make adequate recommendations for improvement in specific areas.

“The issue of cassava ‘off-taking’ is still a major problem as the farmers cultivate in large quantities without the ready market to buy the produce.

“We discovered in some places that the produce are left un-harvested for three years due to non-availability of market and this will be seriously tackled by the programme,” he said.

He also canvassed for the review of the IFAD-VCDP staff remuneration in the state to motivate them in discharging their duties optimally.

Chief Ogodo-Ali Nome, the state Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural resources, thanked the mission team for visiting the state and assured of the government’s total support to the programme.

“Several citizens of the state have embraced farming due to the strides recorded by IFAD-VCDP in the state and this has helped in overall agricultural development.

“We assure that the government will seriously address issues concerning the payment of counterpart funding while we seek for the extension of your services to more councils as against the present five,” he said.

Mr Sunday Ituma, the IFAD-VCDP State Programme Coordinator (SPC) also thanked the team for the visit and noted that its observations would assist the programme perform better in the state.

“This is a learning process for us and despite the accolades we have received so far, we will still improve in ensuring that the programme’s objectives towards its beneficiaries are met,” he said.

Mrs Cynthia Edeze, the IFAD-VCDP Best Youth Farmer in the state, acknowledged that in spite of earning millions of naira from the sale of her cassava produce, she presently employed two permanent and several ad hoc staff.

The mission team visited several beneficiaries’ farms and processing centres among others in the participating local government areas of Afikpo South, Izzi, Ikwo, Ohaozara and Ishielu.

Source: Voice Of Nigeria

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