The Federal Government/International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) has contributed 653,843 tonnes of cassava to Nigeria’s food security.
Alhaji Garba Bala, the National Coordinator of the IFAD-VCDP Programme, said this at the maiden Cassava Investment Dialogue, organised by IFAD on Saturday in Abuja.
According to him, the programme has also contributed 495,720 tonnes of rice to the nation’s food security.
He noted that the aim of the VCDP programme was to boost the incomes and food security of poor rural households engaged in production, processing and marketing of cassava and rice in Anambra, Benue, Ebonyi, Niger, Ogun and Taraba states on sustainable basis.
Bala stressed that the programme’s overall goal was geared toward the reduction of rural poverty and the accelerated economic growth on a sustainable and inclusive basis.
He said that poor rural households in cassava and rice value chains were the primary target groups, adding that the targets also included smallholder farmers who were cultivating up to five hectares of land, among others.
“The VCDP is a six-year project of the Nigerian government, funded by IFAD.
“The project’s aim is to improve incomes and food security of poor rural households engaged in production, processing and marketing of rice and cassava on a sustainable basis.
“The programme has successfully enhanced the productivity and profitability of over 63,000 smallholder farmers and small/medium-scale agro-processors, particularly women and youths, by improving their access to market capacity to increase yield.
“It has as well added value to locally produced raw materials through improved processing and packaging.
“The VCDP is significantly contributing to Nigeria’s strategic objectives of food security.
“The programme, which took effect from October 2013, has for the past six years contributed 495,720 metric tons of rice (worth 243,9 million dollars) and 653,843 metric tons of cassava (worth 46.2 million dollars) to the Nigerian food security and N94.28 billion (about 290.1 million dollars) to the national economy.”
Bala said that the programme, domiciled in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), was implemented through agricultural market development.
He said that the implementation strategies included support to value addition, market linkages and infrastructure, programme management and coordination, among others.
He said that the mandate of the programme included increasing domestic demand for rice and cassava products, adding, however, that “rice millers do not have enough paddy to be in business.
“We still need over two million metric tons (of paddy) per annum to meet domestic demand.”
The national coordinator said that the purpose of the national dialogue was to see how the breakthroughs which IFAD-VCDP and its partners had made in rice production of rice could be replicated in cassava production.
“What we are trying to do is to promote higher production of cassava for smallholder farmers and having access to market by the farmers and as well having off-takers for cassava produce,” he added.