IFAD-VCDP: Anambra Govt advocates regenerative agriculture policy

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The Anambra Government has urged the International Fund for Agricultural Development to adopt mainstreaming regenerative agriculture policy to fast track implementation of its Value Chain Development Programme (IFAD-VCDP).

The State Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Foster Ihejiofor made the call when he received the team of IFAD-VCDP MidTerm Review Mission on Saturday in Awka.

He said the state had adapted regenerative agriculture as its policy to discourage application of inorganic fertilisers and agro chemicals on farmlands by farmers.

“This position is based on the fact that inorganic fertilisers and agro chemicals have negative impacts on the climate and health of those who eat the produce from these.

“Based on these obvious facts, we crave the indulgence of IFAD-VCDP to look at mainstreaming regenerative agricultural practices in Anambra, use what is accepted under the policy to enhance food productivity.

“Doing this will make farmers minimise the costs of inputs and promote sustainability based on bio-diversity above and beneath the ground.

“IFAD-VCDP can also extend this practice beyond the state to other Nigeria States where they are operating even to other countries,” he said.

The policy, he said, when adopted would ensure sustainability and the farmers get profitable results.

The Commissioner appealed to the agency to allow the state decide who benefits from their programme, as that would make government spread its quota across the 21 Local Government Areas of Anambra.

He also requested that IFAD-VCDP should expand its scope beyond cassava and rice, permit the cultivation of vegetables and fruits that could be inter-cropped with the two focused stables.

Ihejiofor said, having witnessed the distribution of inputs in several locations and saw the joy expressed by rural farmers, that the government is happy with the impact of the programme.

The Team Lead, IFAD-VCDP Mid Term Review Mission,  Prof. Jones Lemchi said they were in the state to review the programmes being funded by the agency.

Lemchi, a professor of Agric-Economics at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), said the agency’s programmes were enterprise-based.

He said the goal is to enhance income of small holder farmers on a sustainable basis as well as stimulate agro enterprises that yield profits.

“Poverty can only be alleviated and food security achieved when money is entering the pockets through sustainable agricultural practices,” he said.

Lemchi who gave the history of how the agency began its operations in Nigeria’s six states, added that the project was later expanded to nine states with Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi as beneficiaries in the South-East geo-political zone.

“The projects are funded via payment of counterpart fund and Anambra has been doing well because it is the state that triggered the increase in rice yield from two metric tons to five metric tons per hectre.

“From the beginning, the state was paying counterpart fund used for practical and physical support to the profiled rural farmers as well as little allowance for the staff.

“But since the year 2019, the state is no longer meeting its obligation in terms of funding and this is adversely affecting the programmes,” he said.

VCDP is a six-year programme that focuses on supporting cassava and rice value chains for farmers in Anambra, Benue, Ebonyi, Niger, Ogun and Taraba.

It also aimed at addressing the constraints along the value chains.

The programme is being implemented in collaboration between IFAD, Federal Government and the six participating State Governments.