The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-assisted Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) has handed over shops and stalls it constructed to benefiting communities in Ebonyi.
Speaking at the handover ceremony which took place in Nwofe market in Izzi and Igbji market in Ikwo Local Government Areas, on Wednesday, IFAD-VCDP Programme Coordinator in Ebonyi, Mr. Sunday Ituma, said the programme was aimed at improving the well-being of farmers in benefiting councils.
Ten ‘lock-up’ shops, 14 stalls and an aggregation centre were given out in Nwofe market while 14 stalls and an aggregation centre were handed out at Igboji market in Ikwo council area.
Mr. Ituma disclosed that the handover was part of IFAD’s marketing component aimed at “promoting our value chain crops of rice and cassava.”
The contractors, he said, had successfully completed the projects and according to the programme’s intervention document, “we will constitute an operation and maintenance committee on the projects.”
He added: “The committee will oversee the allotment of stalls, their maintenance, collection of rents, operation of accounts and other requirements to ensure the projects’ sustainance.”
The programme coordinator affirmed that the projects in Ikwo were strategic because the area was renowned for rice production in the state and are expected to enhance the marketing of the farmers’ produce.
He disclosed that a memorandum of understanding would be signed between IFAD-VCDP and the benefiting communities to sustain the projects.
Gov. David Umahi, represented by his Senior Special Assistant on rice production, Chief Itapa Azuobu, commended IFAD for its numerous agricultural interventions, which he said had assisted in revolutionising the sector in the state.
He said IFAD-VCDP’s efforts informed the government’s consistent payment of its counterpart fund for the programme.
The governor called on the benefiting communities to preserve and maintain the projects, adding that he would send officials to monitor such maintenance on constant basis.
“I will hold the chairmen of the councils responsible if the projects are not properly maintained and hereby reiterate the government’s readiness to support IFAD-VCDP in assisting our farmers,” he said.
Dr. Umahi instructed that the makeshift stalls inside the Igboji market be demolished within two weeks and the relocation of affected traders to a trading environment more conducive.
The National Programme Coordinator, IFAD-VCDP, Dr. Ameh Onoja commended Ebonyi government for its consistent payment of the programme’s counterpart fund, describing it as one of the states in the forefront of such payments.
Mr. Onoja, represented by Mr. Frank Njah, urged the benefitting communities to collaborate with the committee set up to maintain the projects to ensure their maximum utilisation.
The Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Chief Moses Nome, expressed his joy at witnessing the completion and handover of the projects started under his supervision.
“The Ministry of Agriculture will always collaborate with IFAD-VCDP to ensure that our farmers receive the needed assistance to increase crop yield and raise their income,” he said.