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Our investment drive in agriculture lifting people out of poverty, Mbah tells IFAD

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Enugu State Deputy Governor, Mr Ifeanyi Ossai during the visit of IFAD Associate Vice President, Dr Donald Brown at Govt house

Enugu State Governor, Dr. Peter Mbah, has said the investment drive of his administration over the past 9 months in office had started to lift poor citizens out of the pit of poverty through government’s deliberate efforts and determination.

The governor disclosed this while receiving the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)’s Associate Vice President (AVP), Dr. Donal Brown, and members of his team who were on a working and inspection visit to the state in Enugu on Wednesday.

This was even as the AVP lauded the governor for his vision of sustaining the IFAD programme, saying the key success to the project is sustainability.

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Mbah, who expressed appreciation to the United Nations’ specialized agency for the assistance and intervention the state had been receiving in the area of agriculture, said his administration was determined on ensuring that agriculture is seen as a low hanging fruit for the people of the state and one of the easy routes of escaping poverty.

He explained that the programme of IFAD was of immense benefit to the people because of its objectives which target rural and smallholder farmers who are the main producers of the daily food being consumed in the country.

“Just as I have noted earlier, on the desk where we are, we may forget the link and the role the smallholder farmers and rural farmers play in the economy. But if you do all the high-level policy formulations and the rural farmers are not accommodated, you will always miss the link. It is the aggregation of rural farmer holdings that come up to your GDP, and when you measure them back in the lives of our people, you will see that it is huge,” the governor said.

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He stressed that through the right support and intervention, rural farmers and smallholder farmers are now able to meet their financial needs such as the payment of school fees for their children, aceess to maternal healthcare and savings.

“We look forward to a more robust relationship with you because experiences have also shown that we must work towards improving what you have done. And I know that your resource is not elastic, that at some point you’re going to stop the programme, and we must sustain it to ensure seamless continuity and even improve on what you’re leaving behind. So, we want to develop a homegrown relationship with you that enables investment you have done to become self-sustaining so that whenever you’re in Africa or Nigeria, you can stop by or can look back at your legacy,” Mbah said.

The governor, who was represented by the deputy governor, Barr Ifeanyi Ossai, while lamenting the perennial post-harvest losses farmers have been facing in the state, urged IFAD for more support to enable the creation of aggregation centres around farm clusters for production preservation that would minimize post-harvest challenges.

“Again, we’re looking at whatever support we can get to begin to encourage commercial farmers because we also know that we have commercial farmers who do the big ticket transaction. It is a lot easier for them to sustain the small holder farmers than whatever programme the government can do. Because when they support the smallholder farmers and provide them with inputs, they support them and teach them skills and they can even advance credit to them because they will be encouraged knowing that there is an already market. So, we are looking for help from you to build some medium to high-level processing centres,” he further added.

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Speaking earlier, Dr. Brown said he was in Enugu to deepen their conversation with the state government on the way both bodies could strengthen their interests, and to also inspect some of the projects funded by IFAD in the last couple of years.

“We have come to Enugu State to look at some of the work we’ve funded through the government of Nigeria. And we selected Enugu State because we have very good things about the work that is happening here,” he stressed.

The IFAD boss further commended the governor for his drive at sustaining the projects and programme as it is the key to ensuring the aims of IFAD in the country are actualized.

Noting that IFAD had about one billion dollars investment in Nigeria which included different sectors and subsectors such as agriculture, processing and production, the AVP said they were looking for ways to support the government to improve food production and food security particularly now that Nigeria is facing food crisis.

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