IFAD Provides $60m to Improve Income, Food Security in Niger Delta
By Adedapo Adesanya
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has contributed $60 million to the Federal Government/IFAD-Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises project in the Niger Delta (LIFE-ND).
This was disclosed by Mrs Dede Ekoue, IFAD Nigeria Country Director, on Tuesday at the Federal Government/IFAD LIFE-ND Mid Term Review Mission Inception workshop in Abuja.
This represented about 90 per cent of the $67.8 million budgeted for the project.
She identified LIFE ND as an important programme aimed at enhancing income, food security, and job creation for rural youths and women through sustainable agri-enterprise development in the region.
She said the mid-term review showed that the project had made significant progress, including an outreach of 14,155 smallholder farmers as against the targeted 25,500.
She noted that the figure represented 55.5 per cent.
According to her, no fewer than 2,500 community women and youths have been trained in the use and cultivation of bio-fortified planting materials.
They included Pro Vitamin A cassava, brown rice, fruits, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, and homestead establishment in more than 39 schools and 150 incubation centres.
She noted that the efforts were aimed at improving nutrition and income generation.
“The uniqueness of LIFE-ND lies in its innovative incubation approach to youths entrepreneurs, taking into account gender equality.
“The project has engaged 792 mature businesses (enterprise incubators), who are working with the project to create and coach 6,035 new enterprises, which represents gainful jobs for women and youths in Nigeria.
“It is worthy of note that a total of 6,500 hectares have been acquired to facilitate women and youth’s access to land, a critical asset for scaling up agricultural activities,” she said.
Mrs Ekoue further said that the MTR mission represented an opportunity to identify strategies, to scale up the results and the project’s impact.
“The mission is an important participatory exercise that calls for active contributions of all stakeholders in developing pathways to maximise the impact of LIFE ND, building on the best practices generated by the project and addressing challenges facing target groups and beneficiaries.
“The mission is leveraging opportunities that are yet to be fully harnessed, including digital solutions and the partnership with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), to scale up support to youths and women, help enterprises development, job creation and foster the transformative growth of the agro-food sector.”
On his part, Mr Musa Bukar, the Director of Programme Coordinating Unit at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, commended the achievements of the project so far.
He appealed to IFAD to boost its funding to accommodate other Niger Delta states like Imo, Rivers, and Akwa-Ibom and assured IFAD of the ministry’s commitment to ensuring the full realisation of the project’s objectives.