The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has launched a South-East regional consultation to promote agriculture and food systems transformation at the states and regional levels.
The program tagged ‘Country Strategic Opportunities Program” (COSOP) 2024-2029,’ held on Thursday in Umuahia, the Abia capital.
It had major participants drawn from various stakeholders in different value chains in agricultural development in four states including Imo, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Abia as the host.
The workshop was facilitated by the Abia State Project Coordinating Office of the Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises for Niger Delta (LIFE-ND), for IFAD.
In a remark, the Abia LIFE-ND Project Coordinator, Dr Uchenna Onyeizu, said that COSOP was a roadmap for the implementation of IFAD’s mandate for inclusive and sustainable rural transformation.
“ COSOP is a framework for making strategic choices about IFAD operations in a country, identifying opportunities for IFAD financing as well as facilitating management for results.”
Onyeizu said that IFAD had penultimate week, launched the COSOP in Abuja, and decided that there should be zonal consultations in the six geopolitical zones.
He said the Thursday’s consultation in Abia was the beginning of the process of developing a new COSOP that would start from 2024-2029.
According to Onyeizu, a new COSOP is being designed because the one that is being used in the country, will expire by Dec. 2023.
Also, Dr Chinwe Onyegbula, the Liaison Officer with the IFAD Country Program Advisory Team for LIFE-ND project, said that the launch was a preparation in the design for another COSOP that would run for 2024-2029.
Onyegbula said that the COSOP document reviews the specific rural poverty situation in order to determine geographic sites and thematic areas for IFAD operations.
She said that the event was being conducted in the six geopolitical zones simultaneously, with all the stakeholders involved expected to make valuable inputs.
Onyegbula said that the reports from all the zones would be gathered and released into a policy document, which would be shared between Nigeria and IFAD.
She said that the program which focused on small holders, is designed in close cooperation with the government and other stakeholders to ensure national ownership.
In a brief remark, Chief Israel Amanze, the Program Manager of Abia State Agricultural Development Program, lauded IFAD for the initiative.
“It is a well thought out program that will impact positively on the lives of our people,” he said.
Also, Mr Ambrose Duru, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Imo thanked IFAD for the massive and encouraging support given to the program.
The participants were able to come up with some of the innovative ideas that can help agricultural development in the region.