The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Federal Government (FG) of Nigeria have empowered over 14,000 residents in the Niger Delta region through a $97.8m youth and women empowerment scheme.
The program has achieved 55.5% of its target, as disclosed by Dede Ekoue, IFAD Country Director in Nigeria, during a mid-year review held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. “It is aimed at enhancing income, food security, and job creation for rural youth and women through agri-enterprise development on a sustainable basis in the Niger Delta region,” she said.
The program coordinator, in her opening remarks, stated that the program’s target is 25,500 participants, with 14,155 beneficiaries reached in six states, namely Abia, Cross River, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, and Ondo. “I hope that over 12,000 others from Imo, Rivers, and Akwa Ibom will join as soon as the Niger Delta Development Commission’s (NDDC) $30m fund is approved,” she said. “We are also using a mentorship system to train trainers and replicate skills and competencies in the agric value chain, with support from the private sector.”
According to the review, cassava processing projects have caught IFAD’s admiration, with communities raising funds to support the project. The highlight of the review is the news that the NDDC’s counterpart fund of $30m has scaled through in the Commission’s 2023 budget at the National Assembly, raising hopes that the program will meet its 100% target once the fund is released. The program has already mobilized a total of N7.3m savings from participants’ enterprises and leveraged N33.7m credit.
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On his part, The national program coordinator of LIFE-ND, Biodun Sanni, expressed optimism that the scheme would empower the youth and women of the Niger Delta region and contribute to their advancement. He also highlighted the government’s commitment to the well-being of the Niger Delta population, particularly women and youth.
Peter Kush, the director of the project coordinating unit (PCU) at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, praised the positive impact of cassava processing businesses on communities and emphasized the significance of improving individual and community economies for the overall national economy.
Seigha Glasgow, a representative from the fishery unit of the NDDC, confirmed that the budget has been approved, and the new managing director, Sam Ogbuku, has expressed the Commission’s commitment to providing the counterpart fund for over 12,000 additional participants.