The Federal Government has commenced the empowerment of 439 rice farmers in Enugu State with seedlings, fertilizers and agrochemicals to boost their yield this farming season.
The farm inputs were provided by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Federal Government Assisted Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP).
Enugu is among the nine states in Nigeria where IFAD VCDP operates, supporting farmers engaged in the production, processing, and marketing of rice and cassava only.
For rice production in Enugu State, IFAD VCDP concentrates on farmers in three local governments of Aninri, Enugu East, and Isiuzo, considered among the top rice-producing areas.
As the rainy season sets in and to support farmers, IFAD VCDP launched “Free Agro Inputs to Vulnerable Farmers under the Rural Poor Stimulus Facilities (RPSF).”
The programme was launched at Ezinesie Oduma in Aninri Local Government Area, Amede in Isiuzo Local Government Area and Nara/Amaechi Idodo communities in Nkanu East Local Government Area.
At the event, the National Coordinator, IFAD VCDP, Dr. Fatima Aliyu, who was represented by the Human Resource Adviser of the organisation, Mr. Giddado Bello, explained that the inputs were to assist poor rural farmers whose sources of livelihood were affected by COVID-19 pandemic.
“To cushion the effect of COVID-19 on farmers in Nigeria, IFAD gave a grant called rural poor stimulus facilities to Nigeria through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
“The grant is meant to support vulnerable farmers in VCDP states of Enugu, Anambra, Kogi, Nasarawa, Benue, Niger, Ogun, Ebonyi and Taraba with the aim to sustain production, enhance food security and accelerate their recovery from negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Apart from the agro-inputs, VCDP will also provide extension services to targeted farmers who will also receive training on good agronomic practices, relating to the application of fertilizers, agrochemicals as well as farm management and climate-smart agriculture’’. the National Coordinator stated.
Enugu State Coordinator, IFAD VCDP, Dr. Edward Isiwu explained that they profiled, through a rigorous process, genuine farmers in the three select local government areas to benefit from the gesture.
“These farmers have their own lands. The process started in August last year when we visited all these farmers in their camps; captured them, had their photographs, and validated them on their farms, we took a GPS to know who has one hectare, who has 0.5, who has 0.1 hectares. And so based on that analysis was done and these inputs are here,” he narrated.
Dr. Isiwu also enumerated the provisions they made for each farmer benefiting from the exercise.
“Each farmer will get 2 bags of fertilizer, a bag of Urea, a bag of 50kg certified Faro 44 rice seedlings and agrochemicals: one selective and one nonselective agrochemical to apply in their farms,” he listed.
Earlier, the State Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr. Matthew Idu, commended Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for providing counterpart finding for the smooth operation and sustained partnership with IFAD VCDP to assist farmers in the state.
The Agric Commissioner encouraged the farmers to use the inputs judiciously.
A representative of the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Peter Kush, cautioned the beneficiaries against the sale of the agro-inputs, saying that they would be monitored and visited in the next three months for a progress reports.
The Enugu State and the southeast Zonal heads of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture were also present to observe the distribution process.
The traditional ruler of Ezinesie Oduma, Igwe Daniel Njoku; the traditional ruler of Amechi Idodo, Igwe Patrick Ezenweze; and the traditional ruler of Nara, Igwe Abel Nwobodo as well as the traditional prime minister of Amede Community, were present to witness the exercise.
They commended the Government and IFAD VCDP for reminding farmers in his domain and assured them of the safety and rancour free process in the distribution of the inputs.
Overwhelmed with joy, some of the beneficiaries, Mr. Kingsley Odo, Mrs. Evelyn Nwaro and Mr. Bokuno Onyeabuchukwu thanked IFAD VCDP for their help, assured them of proper use of the agro materials but appealed for incorporation of more male beneficiaries in subsequent distributions.
The event featured demonstration of right application of herbicides in rice farm.
Reporting by Chukwubuike Madu, editing by Daniel Adejo