No fewer than 560 vulnerable rural farmers in Kogi would benefit from the Rural Poor Stimulus Facility (RPSF), aimed at cushioning the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on rural farmers.
The RPSF is an initiative of the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Value Chain Development Programme, supported by International Fund for Agricultural Development (FGN/IFAD-VCDP).
Speaking to journalists on Friday in Lokoja, Prof. Aminu Suleiman, who led a Team on a Supervision Mission to Kogi, said they were in the state to access the level of preparedness towards the implementation of the RPSF.
According to him, the RPSF is a grant given to rural rice farmers to cushion the shock of COVID-19 pandemic across the States of the federation including Kogi State.
Suleiman expressed satisfaction with the preparation on ground in Kogi, and commended the State Gvernment for its commitment to supporting the IFAD programmes in the state.
He further applauded the State’s Programme Coordinator, Dr Stella Adejoh and her team for always put in all their best to see to the successful implementation of all IFAD-VCDP projects in the state.
On her part, Dr Stella Adejoh, State Programme Coordinator of IFAD/VCDP, said lots of people lost their means of livelihood during the COVID-19 pandemic, and consequently faced with hardships.
She explained that the IFAD decided that such vulnerable persons affected by the pandemic in the society should be helped in order to bring them out of their poverty situation.
She said the farmers would be provided with grant inform of inputs by IFAD such as fertilizer, certified rice seed, selective and non selective herbicides, among others.
She noted about 80 per cent of the farmers’ beneficiaries are women and youths who have been profiled and validated by a team of consultants from IFAD who came to the state in 2021.
She said a total of 560 rural farmers cut across the four rice producing local government areas of Lokoja, Ibaji, Ajaokuta and Kabba/Bunu, in the state.
According her, the inputs include: 1400 bags of NPK fertilizer, 461 bags of Urea fertilizer, 186 pieces of both selective & non-selective herbicides, and 340 bags of 50kg (17 tonnes) of certified Rice seed Faro-44.
Dr Adejoh added that the State Government provided IFAD with warehouse at Kogi ADP office where those inputs were being stored.
“We want to thank Kogi State Government who has provided the enabling environment for the IFAD/VCDP programmes to thrive in the state.
“I feel very excited because of the feedback we are getting and the support the programme is receiving from the Kogi State Government.
“I am very happy and grateful to His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello, for always supporting Agricultural Development Programmes in the state,” she said.
She assured that IFAD is collaborating with the International Fertiliser Distribution Company, who would give support in the area of inputs’ distribution, monitoring and supervision to ensure proper utilisation the intended purpose.
“We will monitor the beneficiaries down to their farms for effective utilisation of the inputs,” Adejoh said.
Earlier, the team paid a courtesy visit to the state’s Commissioner for Agriculture, Hon. David Apeh, where they thanked the State Government for fully supporting VDCP activities in the state.
Apeh assured the team of the commitment of Governor Yahaya Bello to continue to give the needed support to the program for the benefits of Kogi rural farmers.
Also speaking, the Managing Director of Kogi ADP, Mr Bello Ogirima George, who warehoused the farm inputs, thanked the VDCP for the initiative.
He, however, called for more collaboration and support for ADP, saying it would go a long way in strengthening the activities of IFAD/VCDP in the state. The team further interacted in separate discussions with the farmers’ women and youth groups in both Kabawa and Magajiya clusters to know the plight and challenges being faced.
The team lead encouraged the farmers to be more hardworking to increase the size of their farm land from one hectare to three hectares, saying government was ready to assist them with the needed inputs as well as buying their farm produce through offtakers no matter the quantity.
In their separate comments, the youth and women leaders of both Kabawa and Magajiya Clusters, Seidu Liman and Aishat Abdullahi respectively, commended the VCDP for the intervention and promised to judiciously utilised the inputs.
“We are very excited for the intervention especially after this COVID-19 pandemic, we are grateful to them,” Liman said.