By Obinna Unaeze
Minna – The Niger Government on Tuesday commended the Value Chain Development Programme of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD-VCDP) for initiating the Commodity Alliance Forum (CAF) for farmers in the state.
Malam Haruna Dukku, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, conveyed the commendation in Minna at the opening of the second quarter 2018 CAF meeting.
“The CAF is an innovation that is being driven by IFAD-VCDP; it’s a forum that brings together all the value chain actors and relevant stakeholders to share experiences and proffer solutions to challenges.
“This kind of platform is cardinal if we want to achieve tangible successes in the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) in Niger State and the country at large,’’ he said.
The commissioner, who was represented by Dr Ibrahim Musa, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the state government was supporting the project to ensure its sustainability.
He said that the IFAD-VCDP intervention in rice and cassava production in the state had been a huge success, adding that there was, therefore, the need to put in place a structure like CAF to sustain the feats after the programme.
“Through agriculture, many individuals have become financially independent, while our self-sufficiency in food production has improved, thereby boosting the state’s food security,’’ he said.
Earlier, Dr Mathew Ahmed, the State Programme Coordinator of IFAD-VCDP, said that the programme had been supporting rice and cassava farmers in the state in the last four years.
“The IFAD-VCDP has helped in the rehabilitation of rural roads and the provision of farm inputs and implements, among others, for farmers in Niger State,’’ he said.
Ahmed, who was represented by Malam Lawal Mohammed, the Agricultural Production Officer of IFAD-VCDP in the state, said that the forum would assist the farmers to improve themselves.
Mrs Onyinyechi Igwe, the Chief Regulatory Officer of National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in Niger, said that the agency would give free certification to farmers who wanted to engage in produce exports.
Also speaking, Alhaji Ahmed Attahiru, the Chairman of Kontagora Local Government Council, one of the five participating local governments in the state, pledged to work for the continuity of the programme.
He solicited more support from the IFAD-VCDP and thanked the programme for supporting smallholder farmers to increase their yield and income.
Responding, Alhaji Ishaku Dende, the CAF Chairman in Niger, pledged that the forum would ensure continuity of IFAD-VCDP projects after the end of the programme.
He appealed to the five participating local governments and the state government to purchase CAF shares so as to ensure its sustainability.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Federal Government and IFAD-VCDP are implementing a six-year rice and cassava production programme in Anambra, Benue, Ebonyi, Niger, Ogun and Taraba.
The programme, which is expected to complete its projects by Dec. 31, 2019, will terminate on June 30, 2020.