Gabriel Ewepu | Vanguard
AS agribusiness takes centre stage in the economy, a Mid Term Review, MTR, on the Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises in the Niger Delta, LIFE-ND, yesterday, revealed that 14, 155 farmers in six States have benefited from the programme.
This was disclosed by the Country Director, International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD, Dede Ekoue, while presenting her speech at the Official Launch of the Joint Mid-Term Review Mission of LIFE-ND in Abuja.
Ekoue said the MTR shows LIFE-ND’s significant progress, in which 14,155 smallholder farmers have been reached as against an earlier target of 25,500 representing 55.5 per cent, and added that LIFE-ND carved a niche for itself following its innovative incubation approach to raising youth entrepreneurs with gender equality and inclusion.
Meanwhile, according to her, the mission is an important participatory exercise that calls for the active contributions of all stakeholders in developing pathways to maximize the impact of the LIFE ND, building on the best practice generated by the project and addressing the challenges faced by the target groups and beneficiaries and leveraging opportunities that are yet to be fully harnessed.
LIFE-ND is jointly implemented by the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD.
The participating States in the LIFE-ND project include Abia, Cross River, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Ondo.
She said: “The project has engaged 792 mature businesses (enterprise incubators) who are working with the project to create and coach 6,035 new enterprises (incubatees) which represent gainful jobs for women and youth in Nigeria.
“To boost the achievement of nutrition goal, a total of 2500 community women and youth have been trained on the use and cultivation of bio-fortified planting materials pro-vitamin A cassava, brown rice, fruits, orange fleshed sweet potato, and vegetable homestead establishment in over 39 Schools and 150 Incubation Centres to improve nutrition and income generation.
“It is worth noting a total of 6,500 hectares have been acquired to facilitate access of women and youth beneficiaries to land, a critical asset for scaling up agriculture activities
“We are also pleased to report that the assessment conducted shows that over 74 per cent LIFE-ND beneficiaries have reported an increase in profit and hence increased income, which reflects positive impact on poverty.”
However, she (Ekoue) pointed out that the progress and impact of LIFE-ND had its fair share of its challenges including COVID-19 pandemic, the Ukraine -Russia War, floods, and the socio-economic situation.
“This mission is an important participatory exercise that calls for the active contributions of all stakeholders in developing pathways to maximize the impact of the LIFE ND, building on the best practice generated by the project and addressing the challenges faced by the target groups and beneficiaries and leveraging opportunities that are yet to be fully harnessed including digital solutions, and the partnership with Niger Delta Development Commission to scale support to youth and women to help scale up enterprises development, job creation and to foster the transformative growth of agri-food sector.
“Through this launch, we are inviting all the key stakeholders, states, LGA, beneficiaries, incubators, development partners involved to facilitate the implementation of this Midterm review by contributing to the assessment and by providing recommendations to further enhance the effectiveness, the efficiency and sustainability of the project”, she added.
Meanwhile, the Director Project Coordinating Unit, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Musa Bukar, described the Mid-Term Review as an excellent platform based on the activities and impact made, which had recorded great successes despite challenges, and reiterated the commitment and support of the Ministry.
“I hope the Mid-Term review will further assess and make recommendations in line with the project design for phase 2 and phase 1 to overlap, hoping that the phase 2 will commence by next year 2024.
“It is also pertinent for the Mid-Term Review to look into the possibility of IFAD funding the three excluded states of Imo, Rivers and Akwa Ibom States directly from the IFAD funds.
“I assure you of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s commitment, corporation and support to IFAD and the project”, Buka said.