The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Nigeria Country Representative, Nadine Gbossa, has disclosed that a total of $329 million (N118.44 billion) has been budgeted for Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) in Nigeria.
IFAD is an international financial institution and specialised agency of the United Nations that works to address poverty and hunger in rural areas of developing countries.
The VCDP project is a partnership between the Federal Government of Nigeria, Olam Nigeria and IFAD.
In the project, IFAD will contribute about $250m while Olam and the FG will contribute $79m.
The programme was launched in 2014 with the aim of generating wealth for smallholder farmers thereby improving their livelihoods, while also enhancing food security in the country.
Gbossa said: “Before the IFAD, OLAM and VCDP partnership, many of the smallholder farmers were involved in subsistence farming. However, they are now able to market their produce because a firm like Olam purchases over 90 per cent of paddy rice.
“Data show that the smallholder farmers have increased their income by 79 per cent. The number of children attending secondary schools for VCDP households has increased by 17 per cent, so it means that more of the farmers are able to send their children to secondary schools, when the norm then was just sending them to primary schools.”
Olam Nigeria Vice President, Farming Initiatives, Reji George, said, “About 50 per cent of the total capacity of Olam’s rice mill in Rukubi, Nasarawa State, is obtained through the direct buy-back from these programmes from different states.
“We expect a higher scope this year because while we had 9,757 farmers in 2019, we have doubled the number of registered farmers this year, which is about 18,646 registered farmers. What is significant to us is that this programme has helped us to meet up with the requirement rice paddy for the rice mills in Rukubi in Nasarawa State and Amarava Mill in Kano State.”
He added that the smallholder farmers had increased their yields from two metric tonnes per hectare when the project kicked off in 2015, to an average of four metric tonnes per hectare.