By Fatima Muraina
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has earmarked S60m for its Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises Niger Delta (LIFE-ND) to be disbursed across the nine benefitting states. This is with a view to transforming the rural economy and to ensure prosperity.
The National Coordinator of Agricbusiness promotion, Mrs Anthonia Ezenwa disclosed this in an interview with The Hope shortly after the opening ceremony of the second batch of incubators and incubatees training held yesterday, in Akure, the Ondo state capital.
Ezenwa said the project is for food security in the Niger Delta regions to ensure food security in the state where it is being operated and the country as a whole.
She noted that a total of 250 participants have been trained in Ondo state as done in Abia, while other benefitting states are yet to come up with their second batch of training.
The trainees, she said, were trained on cash management and other areas to help them run their various businesses and that the Federal government will give them working capital.
According to her, the loan which is at interest free rate is not uniform but a function of requirement for each of the enterprises which she said have been worked out for different enterprises of the beneficiaries.
While declaring that the loan is not a national cake, Ezenwa explained that: ” it is an initiative of the Federal government of Nigeria with loan from IFAD and NDDC and will be implemented in nine states of the Niger Delta regions of Akwa-Ibom. Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers State.”
” The project will operate in 10 local government areas and 10 communities in each LGA, bringing the total number of participating local governments to 90 and participating people to 900″.
She said the project targets unemployed and under-employed youths (aged 18- 35) as well as women headed households with children under the age of 15 willing to engage in the production, processing and marketing of selected commodities in their communities.
For Ondo state, Ezenwa observed that selected commodities include Cocoa, Cassava, fishery and poultry hoping that at the end of the first phase (six years) 4,250 would have been empowered.
The state Project Coordinator, Mr Olawale Ademola highlighted IFAD various impact on the youth in terms of encouraging them into agriculture, training and giving them necessary empowerment as well as linking them with research institute, bank and outlets in area of marketing to avoid any post harvest loses and how to invest and diversify their economy.
The state FADAMA coordinator, Mr Siji Olajide advised the participants to count themselves lucky and make advantage use of the opportunity granted them.
An incubator from Lavida farms, Mrs Oluwasikemi Yusuf from Ijebu owo urged participants to be resilient, assuring that they will make it and work harder towards it.
She advised them not to jeopardise the opportunity which may affect the chances of others.