Food security: FG, IFAD recommend scaling-up commodity alliance forum

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By Felicia Imohimi

The Federal Government and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) have recommended the scaling-up of commodity alliance forum in all the states of the country.

The recommendation is with a view to enhance farmers access to market as well as transforming the nation’s food system.

They made the recommendation on Wednesday in Abuja at the Wrap-up workshop of the FG/IFAD Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) 10th Supervision Mission.

Dr Dede Ekoue, the Country Director, IFAD Nigeria, identified Commodity Alliance Forum (CAF) operational in VCDP implementing states as an effective platform to enhance farmers’ access to market as well as strengthening agro industry.

Ekoue identified CAF capacity building for youths and women empowerment as key strength that have propelled VCDP to its current level of excellence across the nine participating states of Ebonyi, Enugu, Taraba, Kogi, Nasarawa, Anambra, Benue, Ogun and Niger.

She explained that VCDP had leverage on the power of collaboration through CAF which successfully applied the Public Private-Producer Partnership (4Ps) model, setting an example for effective market-led value chain development especially in the rice sector.

According to her, the result has been global and regional recognition for VCDP’s effectiveness, notably the recent praises from the Vice President of Nigeria at the UN Food Systems Summit stocktaking in Rome.

She therefore recommended youth and women empowerment.

“We have seen that youths are very happy to have the support of the VCDP and it is helping them to increase their income along the value chain.

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“For example, in seed entrepreneur, there are young people that have been trained, we also have youths providing some services like mechanisation to farmers which is very important.

“Women have also shown that they are really happy about the programme because it does not only allow them to have access to input but also work within the community to improve gender equality using household approach called Gender Learning Action System,” she said.

While lauding all participating states for paying their counterpart fund, the country director however urged all states covered by the programme to pay up their counterpart fund.

Similarly, Mr Bukar Musa, the Director, Programme Coordinating Unit, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (FMAF), said the VCDP’s commitment to capacity building for farmer organisations in both technical and business aspects were remarkable.

Musa said the commitment combined with improved access to production inputs had yielded impressive results.

“We have witnessed a staggering increase in yields with cassava recording a 100 per cent improvement and rice production seeing an incredible 200 per cent increase.

“We have witnessed increased yields, improved livelihoods and enhanced food security as a result of the programme’s interventions. This is a testament to the transformative power of targeted investments in agriculture and value chain development,” he said.

He added that the VCDP had played a pivotal role in promoting youth and women entrepreneurship and employment across the entire value chain.

Musa also said that the role was evidenced from service provision in seed multiplication and mechanisation to chemical spraying and value addition in cassava and rice.

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“We have witnessed the incredible transformation of these two groups. Their productivity, incomes and recognition speaks volume about the success of the project.

“VCDP’s dedication to gender equality, youth empowerment and environmental sustainability sets a commendable standard for inclusive and responsible agricultural development.

“These principles not only drive positive outcomes but also ensure that the benefits of our efforts are shared equitably among all segments of the society.

“We acknowledge the resilience and adaptability of all stakeholders involved, particularly in the face of unprecedented challenges such as global pandemic. Our collective commitment to the VCDP’s objectives made us to navigate these challenges and emerge stronger than ever,” he said.

In the same vein, Dr Fatima Aliyu, the National Coordinator FGN/IFAD-VCDP, said the supervision mission examined and assessed the various facets of the VCDP’s implementation, learning from both successes and challenges.

Aliyu said these processes had been invaluable in shaping the future direction of the programme and ensuring that “we continue to deliver impactful results”.

“The main objective is to access the implementation of the additional financing one and two of the project, assess programme implementation.

“What is working and what is not working well and as well to assess the challenges and bottle neck militating against VCDP effective implementation and also to agree together on how best to move the project forward,” she said.

She said that the supervision mission had found out that VCDP had done well in terms of outreach, adding that the project is expected to reach 135 smallholder farmers and processors across the nine participating states by 2024.

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“At the moment we are at 94 per cent, so we are on track to achieving the set target. We have done well in targeting as well because we have targeted the real smallholder farmers that needed the interventions most,” she stated. (NAN)

Edited by Deborah Coker/Muhammad Suleiman Tola

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