By Amuda Dan Sulaiman Fab
The International Fund for Agriculture Development – Value Chain Development Programme (IFAD-VCDP), has distributed tricycles to farmers, processors and marketers in Kogi to improve their wellbeings and livelihoods.
The distribution was flagged off by Kogi Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Timothy Ojoma, at FGN/IFAD-VCDP office on Tuesday in Lokoja.
The commissioner commended the VCDP for the gesture saying the tricycles would be more appropriates to convey the farm produce to markets.
Ojoma advised the beneficiaries not to sell the tricycles but to maintain it, and use it to achieve the intended purposes of improving their wellbeing and reduce poverty.
He urged them to handle the tricycles with care by taking ownership of them for their own benefits and that of their families and the state at large.
The commissioner commended the VCDP for partnering with the State Government in empowering farmers in the state, assuring them of Government’s continuous support.
Ojoma praised Gov. Yahaya Bello for keying into the VCDP and others Agricultural intervention Programmes in the state to improve the wellbeing of the people.
Earlier, the State Programme Coordinator IFAD-VCDP, Dr Stella Adejoh, said the beneficiaries cut across the five local government areas where VCDP is operating at the moment .
According to her, the local government areas include: Lokoja, Ajaokuta, Ibaji, Olamaboro and Kabba/Bunu, adding that a total of 15 tricycles have so far been distributed.
She noted that the tricycles were not totally free, but the beneficiaries paid a matching grant of 30 per cent of the total cost while the VCDP-AF paid the remaining 70 per cent.
She stressed that the essence of the matching grant was for the beneficiaries to show seriousness, commitment and ownership of the machines.
“Today we are distributing tricycles with trailer at back to small holder farmers, processors and marketers to convey their farm produce, processed products and also convey them to the markets for sale,” she said.
Dr Adejoh stressed that the gesture was part of IFAD-VCDP strategies at reducing hunger and starvation and improve the livelihoods of the people.
This, she said was noted during the recent food system summit in Italy where the Federal Government of Nigeria was fully represented with a commitment to leverage on the successes of VCDP in the country.
The coordinator further stated that the distribution of the tricycles was perfectly in line with the global mindset of IFAD/ VCDP on how to help small holder farmers, processors and marketers under the VCDP Programme.
The SPC emphasised that the IFAD-VCDP is enhancing rice and cassava value chains for sustainable agricultural transformation.
She urged the beneficiaries to utilise the tricycles to improve their livelihood and the economy of the state, saying they would be properly monitored.
Dr. Adejoh thanked the Governor for giving the VCDP Programmes the necessary supports and for creating the enabling environment for the programme.
Some of the beneficiaries, Mrs Zainab Musa from Lokoja, Celestine Ejuwe from Ibaji, and Lari Sule from Ajaokuta, all expressed their appreciation to VCDP and Kogi Government for the gesture.
Mrs Musa, who is a widow with five children, said the gesture would have great impact in improving her livelihood and wellbeing of her family.
“My husband is late, but this gesture would enable me to feed my five children very well and train them in school,” Musa said.
On his part, Ejuwe said: “I am overwhelmed with this gesture from Kogi VCDP for finding my cluster worthy to get the tricycle.
“The tricycle will really help us in transporting our farm produce to the market from time to time”.
The beneficiaries all promised to use the tricycles for the intended purposes to achieve the IFAD-VCDP objectives of boosting agricultural value chain and ensuring food security on sustainable basis.