By Obinna Unaeze
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has urged farmers and investors in Niger to sustain its Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) when it winds up in 2024.
Dr Mathew Ahmed, the State Programme Coordinator, made the call on Tuesday in Minna, while inaugurating a one-day dialogue among VCDP farmers, investors, processors, off-takers and financial institutions.
Ahmed said that farmers under the IFAD-VCDP would be left on their own in the next two years to continue with the programme.
“This meeting is part of sustainability strategy as the VCDP intervention will end in December 2024.
“We are working hard to ensure that when the project ends, the Commodity Alliance Forum (CAF) will continue to drive the process on their own and the farmers will continue to leverage on the credit facilities available with the financial institutions and investors.
“If you look at our guide, it says we should wean a farmer after supporting him for two years.
“Therefore, what we can do is to broker a relationship between the farmers, financial institutions, off-takers, individuals or companies who want to support them so that they can sign a contract on how to pay back,” he said.
He advised the partners who want to support farmers with capital and inputs to always contact the State VCDP Office for proper documentation and contract agreement to avoid default.
“Any investor must ensure that the farmers you are supporting are credit worthy,” he added.
The programme coordinator said that the VCDP was to encourage investors to support farmers with inputs such as fertiliser, improved seeds, herbicides among others.
He explained that the farmers would in turn pay back in kind after harvest, instead of cash.
Similarly, Mrs Elizabeth Yisa, VCDP, Marketing Development Officer in the state, said that the meeting would expose the farmers to more agri-business opportunities.
Hajiya Hadizat Isah, the State VCDP Agro-processing/Quality Enhancement Officer, said that partnership in agri-business would develop farmers knowledge and income.
One of the farmers, Mr Sule Izge, Chief Executive Officer, Izge Integrated Farms, Minna, said the meeting would enhance the cordial relationship among VCDP farmers, financial institutions and investors.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the IFAD-VCDP is a collaboration among Federal Government, IFAD and nine participating states of Anambra, Benue, Enugu, Ebonyi, Kogi, Niger, Nasarawa, Taraba and Ogun.
Rice and cassava were included to benefit from VCDP-Additional Financing after the programme recorded huge success in all the participating states.
There are currently 33,200 VCDP farmers in Niger spread across the eight benefiting local government areas of Bida, Katcha, Kontagora, Shiroro, Edati, Borgu, Wushishi and Mokwa. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Maharazu Ahmed/Julius Toba-Jegede