Due to intensifying crises caused by food insecurity, the Federal Government in collaboration with International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD, and the French Development Agency, AFD, Thursday, disclosed moves to unveil an eight year new agricultural project tagged ‘Value Chain in Northern Nigeria’ for the North West and North East regions, as part of efforts to boost food production and nutrition.
The development was made known to newsmen at the closing ceremony of the Workshop, Value Chain North, VCN, Project Design Mission’ in Abuja
Speaking during the official wrap up, the Director, Policy Coordinating Unit, PCU, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Musa Bukar, explained the essence of the wrap-up workshop, which is to basically collate all the responses of stakeholders from the three zones that the teams went to, and also harmonize their findings, therefore, come up with a better project design for implementation.
According to Bukar, the Value Chain in Northern Nigeria, VCN, is to be co-funded by the French Development Agency and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.
He said: “This journey started about two weeks back when teams of consultants and other stakeholders were sent out to the field in three zones of Borno representing Yobe and Borno States, then Kano; Kano, Jigawa, Katsina and Sokoto representing the Sokoto-Kebbi Zone.
“The teams that have gone out met with stakeholders in the agricultural sector to seek their opinions, contributions on how the new VCN Project will effectively take-off and will impact on the lives of the rural dwellers as well as rural farmers.
“All these stakeholders’ opinions were received and on today’s occasion, we are going to collate all the responses of stakeholders from the three zones that the teams have gone to so that we look into it or harmonize it and come up with a better project design over time.
“If it takes off, the VCN Project will be for eight years, and for now eight States will be involved in the pilot project because eight States have been targeted and it is an eight-year Programme.
“The commencement date cannot be specific because now we are at the design stage and even this design stage, however fast we look at it, it will reach up to around September 2024. It is after the design then the negotiation will follow, and the agreements will follow. So I can not specifically tell when it will take off, but whenever it takes off, then we are looking at an eight year project period.
The value chains are maize, rice, millet, cowpea, and sorghum. These are major staple food crops in most States in northern Nigeria. These are the value chain crops that we’re targeting.”
Furthermore, he said that VCN targeted value chains include maize, rice, millet, cowpea, and sorghum because these are major staple food crops in most States in northern Nigeria.
As for the beneficiaries, he said, “We have what we refer to as direct and indirect beneficiaries.
“Directly the project is targeting about 354 direct beneficiaries, then for the indirect beneficiaries, it will be around a million or over 900,000 across the States.”
However, he said the teams during the field mission identified some major gaps and they will be addressed, “The gaps actually that was the reason for the mission because there was initially a project called the ‘Climate Change Adaptation and Agribusiness Support Programme’, which was also funded by International Fund for Agricultural Development, the project was closed in 2021.
“So we are out on the field to meet with the beneficiaries of that former project as well as the direct beneficiaries in the projects to find out the gaps.
“So the area that this project is looking at is agricultural technology transfer, rural economy, climate change adaptation Programme, that’s the Climate Smart Agriculture. These are the gaps that we want to fill.
“We want to also include the agricultural technology innovation, that is the ICT4D. We want to digitalize the agricultural sector, how to pass information, digitalize how to distribute inputs, how to even gather data because this the digital age, so we want to digitalize small scale farmers to you know come on board to get the easiest or how to receive and deliver every aspect of the project.”