By Abubakar Hassan

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Niger state government has committed over N63.5 million as counterpart contribution for the implementation of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP).
The state Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Alh. Kabiru Abbas Musa made this disclosure during the distribution of Agricultural equipment to farmer organizations under the VCDP programme, held last Tuesday at NAMDA office, Minna.
He said the policy trust of the present administration in the state under the leadership of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello for the agricultural sector of the state was to achieve self-sufficiency in food production and employment generation
He further stated that to achieve these the Governor was committed to paying the state’s counterpart contribution for participation in all international donor supported programmes in agriculture.
The Commissioner revealed that the VCDP programme began couple of years ago with the view to reduce rural poverty and accelerated economic growth on sustainable basis, increase incomes and food security of poor rural households engaged in marketing of rice and cassava in the five focal local government areas of the state on a sustainable basis.
He added that the programme aimed at strengthening the farmer organizations by building their capacity to take advantage of existing market opportunities and overcome constraints along the value chain.
Alh. Kabiru Abbas said the equipments were provided under matching grant arrangement for processors and small holder production activities, adding that the benefiting farmers organizations under this component will provide 30 percent of the cost of the equipment while IFAD supported VCDP will provide the remaining 70 percent of the cost as a Grant.
He also appealed to all the farmer organizations captured under the programme to hasten the process of depositing their 30 percent in their bank accounts to enable them acquire the agricultural equipment of their choice. He added that failure for farmers to meet up will deprive the state the 70 percent support to be provided by IFAD-VCDP, and that this will affect the state’s quest to enhance small scale agricultural mechanization in the state.
He called on the benefiting farmer organizations to ensure proper utilization of the equipments and that they should know that they will be monitored on regular basis to guarantee that the equipments were used for the purpose they were meant for and not contrary.
Earlier in his address the state coordinator of IFAD, Dr. Mathew Ahmed said the matching grant was based on demand because most a times when equipments were given without demand for them the farmers don’t value it.
He disclosed that the total cost for the equipments is N14 million and they include a complete cassava processing machine for the production of gari, Rice Distonner machine, tractor with complete implements and thresher among others.
Dr. Mathew also disclosed that the benefiting groups were just one percent of the profiled farmers under the programme, and that as soon as other groups complete their processes and draw up their business plan more equipments will be distributed to the groups, calling on the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the equipments.
The National coordinator of VCDP, Dr. Ameh Onoja represented by Agricultural production advisor, Dr. Victor Chika said Niger State was suitable for agriculture and that was why the state always benefited from any agricultural intervention.
He said Niger State was very dear to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, expressing optimism that the state will continue to reign supreme in agriculture in the country. He also appreciated the state government support to all the agricultural programmes from federal government.
There was also a goodwill message from the Council chairman of Kontagora Local Government area who represented the chairmen of the benefiting local governments. Nine farmer organizations from Bida, Katcha, Shiroro and Kontagora local government areas met the criteria and were presented with the equipments of their choices.
Highlight of the event was inspection and presentation of the equipments by the state Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development.

TAURARUWA