Gov. Peter Mbah of Enugu has called on the International Funds for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to expand its areas of coverage in Enugu to enhance agricultural yield and boost food security in the state.
Mbah made the appeal when he received a delegation from IFAD led by the Country Director of the agency, Mrs Dede Ekoue in Enugu on Thursday.
The governor said that Enugu state was working closely with IFAD on value chain development, adding that his administration would ensure enhancement of income for the rural dwellers and create food security.
“Beyond food security, we are looking at exports and the objective of IFAD programme generally, is something that we are very much interested in,” he said.
Highlighting some of his plans in agriculture, Mbah said, “we want to unlock our rural economy and we want to scale up our production and in scaling up our production, it means that we have to add value to state’s GDP”.
The governor called for increased funding to accommodate construction of access roads to the farmlands and expansion of local government areas being covered, from five local government areas to more.
This, he said, would help ito scale up production across the state in the value chain of of cassava and rice production.
He also announced his plan to build world class rice processing mill in the state to scale up production of rice in the state.
“We want to reassure you of our commitment that whatever input we are getting from IFAD programme,is for us, an addition to our visions programme in the agriculture sector as we have agriculture constituting over 60 percent to our GDP,” he said.
The governor further said that the state government had set aside over 300,000 hectares of land for farming and promised that the objectives IFAD in the state would be achieved.
Earlier, Ekoue said she was in Enugu to launch the tenth supervision mission for the value added chain development programme by the Federal Government of Nigeria , IFAD and Enugu state.
She said that 5,000 rural farmers had benefited from IFAD programme in Enugu, adding that over 50 per cent of the number were women and more than 30 per cent were young farmers , producers , processors and traders.
The country director, commended Mbah, for paying all the counterpart funding, which she said, would allow the programme to scale up its impacts in the state .
She added that the governor’s commitment in paying the counterpart funding demonstrates his agenda of zero per cent poverty in Enugu
“This release of the counterpart funding demonstrates your strong commitments to fighting rural poverty.
”We know that your agenda is to have zero percent poverty, but this payment also is a clear signal of your determination to revitalise agriculture and agro-industry,” she said.
She said that the supervision entailed three things which team would be looking at were, the positives, the progress made by the state and their challenges .(NAN)