Rice and cassava farmers supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development-assisted Value Chain Development Programme IFAD-VCDP in Enugu have pledged to sustain the programme to boost rice and cassava production in the state.
They made this pledge during the ongoing 10th Supervision Mission/Programme Report on IFAD-VCDP programme in Enugu State on Saturday.
The farmers promised that after the expiration of the implementation activities of the programme by 2024, they would continue and multiply what was given to them to create jobs and ensure food security in Nigeria.
According to them, aside the farm inputs, equipment and infrastructure given to them, the technical assistance in business thinking and sustainable training will help them to continue the programme, even when IFAD-VCDP finally leaves.
Some of the cassava processing centres visited by the IFAD-VCDP officials were Umualo in Isi Uzo Local Government Area (LGA); Umuaga Ezimo in Udenu LGA, Ogbeke-Nike and Ako-Nike in Enugu East LGA.
Others are rice processing centres in Nenwe and Mbuluowo in Aninri and Nkanu East LGAs respectively.
A cassava farmer, Mr Christian Eze, while commending IFAD-VCDP, Gov. Peter Mbah and the State Programme Coordinator, Dr Edward Isiwu, said the project had changed their means of livelihood.
Eze said they were empowered with garri (processed cassava grains) processing equipment, boreholes, market stores and others, saying that the training given to them would assist them to carry on when the project eventually wound up.
“We have 30 hectares of cassava planted with improved variety of cassava stem from IFAD and the upgrade of our garri processing centre will help us to produce more garri for the state and Nigeria in general.
“With the upgrade of our processing centre, our quality of garri and cassava flour has improved as we were taught how to produce, process, package and market,” he said.
Another farmer, Mark Ndu, said that they would soon begin to export their garri given the quality of their packaging and approval by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
“The upgrade will increase our margin, revenue, give us market share in Nigeria and create more employment as we now have women, who fry our garri and those that market it,” he said.
A rice farmer, Mrs Lovely Ejim, thanked the Federal Government, IFAD-VCDP for their support, saying she never knew one could create wealth from Agriculture.
She said that very soon, they would be supplying rice to Enugu residents and beyond in large quantities.
Another farmer, Evelyn Nwaaro of Chimelumma Cooperative Group, thanked the sponsors for giving them tricycles recently, and appealed for transplanting machine to lessen their burden of transplanting their rice manually.
At the commencement of the supervision, the National Program Coordinator, IFAD-VCDP, Dr Fatima Aliyu, rated Enugu State high in implementation of the program.
The coordinator, who said that for each project, there are targeted number of farmers, stressed that, “based on our target, the state has profiled and assisted 75 per cent of what they are supposed to cover since 2020.”
Aliyu noted that out of the targeted beneficiaries, the state had supported over 5000 rural farmers, including women and youths.
She added that their visit was to hear the farmers’ success stories, and understand the challenges they were facing, so as to proffer solutions.