From: Bamidele Fashube, Abuja
The Federal Government and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) have agreed to work more closely to ensure food sufficiency in the country by funding and supporting the nation’s rural farmers.
Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri and IFAD’S regional Director for the West and Central African region, Mr. Lisandro Martin made this joint commitment when the Director paid Lokpobiri a visit in the minister’s office in Abuja on Tuesday.
While describing the value being added to the nation’s agricultural sector by IFAD as very significant, the minister pledged that the Nigerian Government would give priority to its partnership with the fund and would also do whatever that is needed to be done for the partnership to flourish.
“As a government, what we have decided to do is to say we will give priority to our partnership, whatever that is needed to be done on the part of the government, we would endeavour to do,” the minister assured.
In a statement issued by his media aide, Mr George Orji, Lokpobiri disclosed to the visiting director that besides feeding its rapidly growing people, Nigeria ensures that all the value chain support by IFAD also trickles down to our West African neighbours, noting that if Nigeria is unable to support the West African region, and in fact Africa the consequences would be very catastrophic.
According to him, “Whatever we do here essentially feeds the whole of West Africa. The seeds that we produce here essentially service the whole of West Africa, the grains that we produce here services the whole of West Africa. Whatever happens here affects the whole of West Africa. So, whatever support that you are giving to Nigeria is essentially the support given to the whole of West Africa.
The minister further disclosed that with the support of IFAD, the Federal Government has not only been able to increase food sufficiency and create jobs for the teaming youths, but has as well made many millionaires from the farmers.
“What we are doing as a government is to encourage young men, instead of looking for government job where they will be paid peanuts, should go into Agribusiness, not only to plant but in the entire value chain. These are the things we can achieve with the active support of IFAD,” Lokpobiri said.
Continuing, the minister stated that, “So many millionaires have been made from this partnership and we intend to create more and more millionaires so that this issue of unemployment that is a fundamental problem to Nigeria would be tackled.”
Lokpobiri said the Federal Government would be approaching the fund from time to time to seek for more financial support to enhance agricultural yield in the country and urged IFAD not to be tired of coming to the aid of the Nigerian Government each time such requests are made. IFAD’s total financial support to the nation’s farmers is currently about $500 million.
“The value that is being added by our partnership is so significant that from time to time, you will be getting additional demands from us for more financing,” the minister said, pledging that, “I want to assure you that for whatever support we get the story will be always a success story so that our people will continue to get value for what this partnership is about.”
Responding, the visiting Director who came in company of the country representative of IFAD to Nigeria, Nadine Gbossa, informed his host that IFAD was already strategizing on how to expand its Nigerian office, not only in terms of increasing their support but also increasing their ability to provide more technical guidance and to the implementation of its projects in the country.
“We are working with our team to bring additional staff to Nigeria because this is clearly a country that is almost like a continent where we realise that the capacity we have at the moment is not sufficient,” Martin said.
Reacting to the request by the minister for additional funding, the director disclosed that one of the key elements of the fund’s formula is that the resources a country gets is linked to further disbursement, noting that, “So, the faster you use the money, the more money you get, which is a common sense principle