The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has provided a first grant of $900,000 to support the worst affected small-scale producers and rural households in the North go through the COVID-19 crisis.
According to the organisation, the grant which is provided through its Rural Poor Stimulus Facility (RPSF) is also for the household and small-holder farmers to rebuild and recover in the post-crisis period.
IFAD said this in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja by Vera Onyeaka-Onyilo, Knowledge Management and Communication Advisor, IFAD Nigeria Programmes.
The statement further noted that the grant agreement was signed by Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning and Nadine Gbossa, IFAD’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa.
According to the statement the money will help vulnerable small-scale farmers in seven Northern states of Borno, Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara
“The Federal Government of Nigeria and the International Fund for Agricultural Development of the United Nations (IFAD) are working together to lessen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on small-scale farmers’ activities and domestic food supply in Northeastern states.
“Under the leadership of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, more than 8,000 vulnerable smallholders in Northern Nigeria will receive an agricultural stimulus and resilience package composed of climate resilient seeds.
“These seeds are high yielding and high nutritional value varieties that will help farmers achieve good production and secure their incomes.
The statement quoted Mohammed Nanono, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development as saying that IFAD’s support complemented the United Nations Nigeria COVID-19 Basket by earmarking resources to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on smallholders’ farming activities and domestic food supply.
”We both recognise and appreciate IFAD’s support to our quest to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country’s economy, particularly on the agricultural sector.
“This support strengthens my ministry’s COVID-19 Agricultural Mitigation and Sustainability Plan, which aims to address the impact of the pandemic on Nigerian agriculture and food security.
“The government will procure 80 metric tons of seed – maize, rice and vegetables – and 722 metric tons of fertilizer that will support the most affected small-scale farmers.
“About 50 per cent are women, 25 per cent men and 25 percent young farmers who are already participating in the ongoing IFAD-funded Climate Adaptation and Agribusiness Support Programme.
Nadine Gbossa noted that there would also be training for communities on improved food production practices, including effective application of fertilizer and agro-chemicals, farm management and climate-smart agriculture.
These activities according to the director are intended to safeguard smallholders’ pre-COVID gains in food security, better market access and increased income.
“Activities would also sensitise small-scale producers to COVID-19 security measures they should follow to stay safe during their farming activities.
“This funding from IFAD’s Rural Poor Stimulus Facility will ensure that farmers have timely access to inputs, information and markets.
“By supporting smallholders to mitigate this crisis through a market-led approach, basic farming activities will be sustained, facilitating post-COVID-19 crisis recovery and resilience.
“IFAD is committed to leave no one behind and will ensure that women and the youth in Nigeria have an equal opportunity to benefit from this funding,” Gbossa said.