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FG/IFAD distribute farm inputs to 300 rural farmers in Ebonyi -By Reginald Okoro

The Federal Government on Friday in Abakaliki inaugurated the distribution of farm inputs comprising; rice seedlings, fertilizers, chemicals and other sundry farm inputs to Ebonyi rural farmers.

The programme which held at the premises of Ebonyi Agricultural Development Programme (EBADEP) at Azuebonyi in Abakaliki was under the sponsorship of Federal Government of Nigeria/ International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Value Chain Development Programme.Dr Fatima Aliyu, National Programme Coordinator of FGN/IFAD VCDP in her address said that the project was a programme domiciled in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD).

Aliyu was represented by Mr Francis Njah at the occasion.According to her, the project is aimed at improving incomes and food security of poor rural households engaged in production, processing and marketing of of rice and cassava on sustainable bases.She noted that the programme was part of FG’s intervention efforts at to cushioning effects of the COVID-19 which affected the world and disrupted farming activities and food system.

The coordinator explained that the grant which was given by IFAD in 2020 was meant to cushion the effects of the pandemic on farmers in Nigeria.She said: “I am delighted to welcome you all to this special occasion of the inauguration of agro inputs to our great farmers which has been made possible through the IFAD COVID-19 Rural Poor Stimulus Facility (RPSF) grant.”Under the RPSF, 2, 793 vulnerable VCDP farmers will receive agro inputs including certified seeds, NPK/Urea fertilizers and herbicides to support their farming activities.”VCDP will also provide extension services to targeted farmers who will also receive training on good economic practices to application of fertilizers and agro-chemical as well as farm management.

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“She said that in order to enhance transparency in the inputs redemption process that the programme has engaged the services of the International Fertilizer Development Centre (IFDC) for effective management of inputs delivery and redemption in all nine state through the voucher inputs redemption system.She appreciated the efforts of IFAD in the FG’s quest to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on the agricultural sector in Nigeria and particularly for VCDP farmers.

Meanwhile, Chief Moses Nomeh, Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources on Ebonyi, inaugurating the distribution exercise appealed to beneficiaries to ensure that the inputs were put into use.He warned beneficiaries against selling the products insisting that government would monitor recipients to ensure that the inputs were not diverted and vowed that anyone caught selling the items would be arrested and prosectuted.

The commissioner advised the benefiting farmers to ensure that they multiplied the items given to them by engaging themselves in real farming.”Some of you after collecting the inputs will go and sell them for peanuts; a bag of 50kg of rice seedling is expected to produce another 80 bags of 50kg, so, if you sold your own for peanuts, you are the one losing.

“If you sold any of these, you have lost; a bag of Ebonyi fertilizer is sold at N22,000, Urea fertilizer is sold between N18000 and N19000 while a carton of herbicides is N150,000.”I don’t know any of the beneficiaries, not even those coming from my local government, but what’s important is that you make use of what is given to you today by IFAD to add value to your life,” Nomeh said.

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Mr Augustine Njoku, chairman of Apex Value Chain Group (AVCG) for rice who spoke on behalf of the beneficiaries thanked the FGN/IFAD for the grant assuring that the farmers would make judicious use of the farm inputs to enhance food production.Our correspondent reports that that beneficiaries are expected to go home with one 50kg bag of rice seedling; one 50kg bag of NPK/Urea fertilizer, chemicals and other inputs.

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