By Felicia Imohimi
Abuja, – International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is set to empower 25,550 women and youth entrepreneur, under the Federal Government/IFAD- Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises in Niger-Delta (FG/IFAD-LIFE-ND).
Country Director, IFAD Nigeria, Ms Dede Ekoue, said this at the ongoing 3rd Joint Supervision Mission workshop on LIFE-ND project, on Friday in Abuja.
She said that the project was targeted at nine states, including Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Imo, Abia, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Ondo as well as Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Ekoue also said that the project was expected to fund three states of Rivers, Imo and Akwa Ibom.
According to her, the project is aimed at promoting agribusiness development and rural enterprise among youth and women in a sustainable manner in the Niger- Delta region in seven value chains of cassava, rice, plantain, cocoa, fishery, palm oil and poultry.
“The programme aims to promote 25,550 youths and women entrepreneurs in IFAD-funded states by 2025,” she said, adding that it would bring innovation that was in its incubation model.
The IFAD country coordinator said that the project would allow youths and women to learn from experienced agri-preneurs on the setting up and management of a sustainable and profitable agri-business that would create job for themselves and others.
“In 2021, LIFE–ND, through incubation model, empowered no fewer than 2,000 young and women with skills, knowledge and network needed to set up their business.
“The project has been improving the ecosystem for enhanced productivity and resilience of agribusiness through investment in infrastructures production and processing clusters,’’ she said.
Ekoue said that the project was also important for government due to its contributions to National Agriculture Technology Innovation Policy (NATIP) and the National Pathways for Food System Transformation.
According to her, the overall vision of LIFE-ND is a rural economy in which all population can derive prosperity and equal benefit, stressing “the aim is to empower women and youths in their income, to boost food security and foster job creation.
“The recent floods have washed away many of the progress made by the project,” she said.
Ekuoe assured that the supervision team would consult all the key beneficiaries, such as: agribusiness coaches and incubators, state and local authorities and national and international development partners to assess the innovative and efficient ways of addressing the challenges.
According to her, the measure is aimed at harnessing the existing opportunities in order to safeguard and scale up the progress made by LIFE-ND.
Also, Mrs Stella Manureh of NDDC attributed the delay of the commission’s payment of its counterpart fund of 30 million US dollars to bureaucratic procedure.
“NDDC is still committed to continuously partnering with development organisations like IFAD in bringing the best to the citizens of the region because the project is in line with its mandate of developing the region,’’ she said.
Dr Peter Kush, Deputy Director, FMARD and acting Programme Coordinating Unit (PCU), said that the project, which commenced three years ago and funded by IFAD and NDDC, had been challenged by NDDC’s failure to meet up with its counterpart funding commitment.
He identified other challenges hindering the progress of LIFE–ND as inflation and flood. (NAN)