The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in collaboration with the Federal Government, on Tuesday, distributed farm inputs worth N52 million to 300 cassava and rice farmers in Benue.
Mr Emmanuel Igbaukum, IFAD Value-Chain Development Programme (VCDP) Coordinator, announced this during the flag-off ceremony of the distribution in Makurdi.
“This year, 300 farmers are benefiting from agro inputs support for both cassava and rice farmers amounting to N52 million,” Igbaukum said.
According to him, VCDP will support the youth with 18 different items to enhance the cultivation and processing of rice in the state.
These items include tricycles, power tillers, knack sack sprayers, water pumps, thrashers, direct seeders and rice milling machines.
They will also receive rice distoner, weighing scales, bag closers, and packaging materials.
Other inputs include grater, pressers, wet hammer, fryers, sieving machine, weighing scales and bag closer.
Igbaukum said that IFAD-VCDP had prioritised non-diversion of fertilisers and other agro-inputs as well as the quality of fertilisers for distribution to the farmers.
IFAD-VCDP, he lamented, had received reports of sale of substandard fertilisers to farmers, stressing that it cannot be tolerated.
“It is our responsibility to ensure that only high-quality fertilisers reach farmers in order to boost productivity,” the coordinator said.
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He pleaded with the Benue State Government to support the IFAD Project with the timely release of counterpart funds for effective implementation of the project’s mandate.
The National Programme Coordinator, Dr Fatima Aliyu, corroborated Igbaukum on the need for prompt payment of counterpart funds.
“IFAD is counting on the state government’s continued support through timely payment of counterpart funds,” Aliyu said.
She was represented by the National Procurement Officer, Mr Baba Yakubu at the event.
Aliyu assured of a sustained collaboration with the stategovernments to improve the livelihoods and income of farmers.
Also, the Acting Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Nat Adzuu, lauded the intervention of IFAD, particularly the 2023 input distribution.
Adzuu stressed that the inputs came at a critical time when prices of farm inputs had skyrocketed.
“This made it very difficult for our smallholder farmers to attain and expand their production potential,” Adzuu said.
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