IFAD to empower 25,550 women, youths in Niger-Delta


International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), is set to empower 25,550 women and youth entrepreneurs, under the Federal Government/IFAD- Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises in Niger-Delta (FG/IFAD-LIFE-ND).

Country Director, IFAD Nigeria, Ms Dede Ekoue, said this at the on-going 3rd Joint Supervision Mission workshop on LIFE-ND project, on Friday, in Abuja.

She said the project targets nine states, including Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Imo, Abia, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Ondo as well as the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Ekoue also said the project is expected to fund three of these states —Rivers, Imo and Akwa Ibom.

According to her, the project is aimed at promoting agribusiness development and rural enterprise among the youth and women in a sustainable manner in the Niger-Delta region across seven value chains of cassava, rice, plantain, cocoa, fishery, palm oil and poultry.

“The programme aims to promote 25,550 youths and women entrepreneurs in IFAD-funded states by 2025,” she said, adding that it will bring about innovation that is still in its incubation model.

The Country Coordinator also said the project will allow youths and women to learn from experienced agripreneurs on the setting up and management of a sustainable and profitable agribusiness that will create jobs for themselves and others.

“In 2021, LIFE–ND, through the incubation model, empowered no fewer than 2,000 youths and women with skills, knowledge and network needed to set up their business.

“The project has been improving the ecosystem for enhanced productivity and resilience of agribusiness through investment in infrastructure production and processing clusters,” she said.

Ekoue said the project was also important for the government because of its contributions to the National Agriculture Technology Innovation Policy (NATIP), and the National Pathways for Food System Transformation.

According to her, the overall vision of LIFE-ND is a rural economy in which all population can derive prosperity and equal benefit, stressing “the aim is to empower women and youths in their income, to boost food security and foster job creation.

“The recent floods have washed away many of the progress made by the project,” she said.

The project is challenged by the NDDC’s failure to meet up with its counterpart funding commitment as well as inflation and flood.

Ekuoe assured that the supervision team will consult all the key beneficiaries, such as: agribusiness coaches and incubators, state and local authorities and national and international development partners to assess the innovative and efficient ways of addressing the challenges.

According to her, the measure is aimed at harnessing the existing opportunities to safeguard and scale the progress made by LIFE-ND.

Also, Mrs Stella Manureh of NDDC attributed the delay of the Commission’s payment of its counterpart fund of $30 million to bureaucratic procedure.

“NDDC is still committed to continuously partnering with development organisations like IFAD in bringing the best to the citizens of the region because the project is in line with its mandate of developing the region,’’ she said.

Deputy Director, FMARD and acting Programme Coordinating Unit (PCU), Dr Peter Kush, said the project, which commenced three years ago and funded by IFAD and NDDC, is challenged by the Commission’s failure to meet up with its counterpart funding commitment as well as inflation and flood. (NAN)

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