International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) says it concluded plans to empower 25,550 Niger Delta women and youth entrepreneurs, under the Federal Government/IFAD- Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises (FG/IFAD-LIFE-ND).
Dede Ekoue, IFAD Country Director, said this at the ongoing 3rd Joint Supervision Mission workshop on the LIFE-ND project, on Friday in Abuja.
According to NAN, Ms Ekoue said the project was targeted at nine oil-producing states, including Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Imo, Abia, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Ondo as well as Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
According to the Country Director, the project was expected to fund three states; Rivers, Imo, and Akwa Ibom.
She said the project is aimed at promoting agribusiness development and rural enterprise among youth and women in a sustainable manner in the Niger- Delta region in seven value chains of cassava, rice, plantain, cocoa, fishery, palm oil, and poultry.
“The programme aims to promote 25,550 youths and women entrepreneurs in IFAD-funded states by 2025,” she said, adding that it would bring innovation that was in its incubation model.
The IFAD country coordinator said that the project would allow youths and women to learn from experienced agripreneurs on the setting up and management of a sustainable and profitable agri-business that would create jobs for themselves and others.
“In 2021, LIFE–ND, through the incubation model, empowered no fewer than 2,000 youth and women with skills, knowledge, and network needed to set up their business.
“The project has been improving the ecosystem for enhanced productivity and resilience of agribusiness through investment in infrastructures production and processing clusters,” she said.
Ekoue said that the project was also important for the government due to its contributions to National Agriculture Technology Innovation Policy (NATIP) and the National Pathways for Food System Transformation.
According to her, the overall vision of LIFE-ND is a rural economy in which all populations can derive prosperity and equal benefit, stressing that “the aim is to empower women and youths in their income, to boost food security and foster job creation.
“The recent floods have washed away much of the progress made by the project,” she said.
The IFAD Country Director assured that the supervision team would consult all the key beneficiaries, such as agribusiness coaches and incubators, state and local authorities, and national and international development partners to assess the innovative and efficient ways of addressing the challenges.
She added that the measure is aimed at harnessing the existing opportunities in order to safeguard and scale up the progress made by LIFE-ND.
Also speaking, NDDC’s Mrs Stella Manureh said the Commission’s delay to effect the payment of its counterpart fund of 30 million US dollars is due to the bureaucratic procedure.
“NDDC is still committed to continuing partnering with development organisations like IFAD in bringing the best to the citizens of the region because the project is in line with its mandate of developing the region,’’ she said.
Peter Kush, Deputy Director of the Federal Ministery of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and the acting Programme Coordinating Unit (PCU), said that the project, which commenced three years ago and was funded by IFAD and NDDC, had been challenged by NDDC’s failure to meet up with its counterpart funding commitment.
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