By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA- AN agricultural programme under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Programme Phase 1, ATASP-1, has achieved 209, 464 metric tonnes of food worth N36.2 billion in four years to the economy.Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki (4th left), while flagging off the land preparation for the cultivation of a 725-hectare maize farm project in Sobe, Owan West Local Government Area, Edo State.
This was disclosed by the National Programme Coordinator, ATASP-1, Ibrahim Arabi, at a media conference, on the impact made in the agricultural sector.
According to Arabi the programme, which commenced in February 2015 and subsequently launched in March 2015 is funded by the African Development Bank, AfDB, in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to the tune of $174.85 million including grant facility.
He further stated that the programme was for 5-year but extended for two years and is being implemented in line with Buhari-led government’s Green Alternate Agriculture Policy, GAAP, and Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP.
He added that the programme is ongoing in 200 rural communities, 33 local government areas in seven states including Anambra, Enugu, Niger, Kano Jigawa, Kebbi and Sokoto with a land area of 194, 426km and a population of 32, 121, 944 people who are predominantly farmers.
He also pointed out that In order to achieve their objectives, they employed capacity building/training and empowerment of farmers, women and youth, among others across the three commodity value chains of Rice, Cassava and Sorghum alongside rural infrastructure development. The economic infrastructure development, rural roads and irrigation infrastructure implementation process has started with the invitation of bids already sent out last month July.
The outreach programme is implementation by the International Institute Tropical Agricultural, IITA, in partnership with AfricaRice and ICRISAT, has ensured production and productivity enhancement of the target commodities.
He said: “Since inception to date, ATASP-1 has trained over 20, 000 farmers and processors among others, including women and youth on Good Agricultural Practices, GAP, and food processing across the four zones.
“The programme has contributed to the food and nutrition security, job and wealth creation objectives of Nigeria’s agricultural policy. About 299, 615 jobs gave been created compared with a target of 120, 000; 209, 464 metric tonnes of food, valued at N36.2 billion has been injected into the economy as against a target of 100, 000 metric tonnes; and the increase of income of farmers and entrepreneurs by 20.5 per cent at Mid Term Review (MTR) of the programme gives confidence that the target of 25 per cent increase in income for the programme beneficiaries is achievable at the end of the programme.
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“Over 50 per cent of programme beneficiaries have adopted the improved technologies introduced in respect of production, processing and post-harvest handling of rice, sorghum and cassava. Some of the programme beneficiaries who have adopted the technologies promoted by ATASP-1 have been able to acquire additional assets through enhancement of income.”
Meanwhile, he assured that the programme will train 40, 000 youths in the various value chain activities before the end of the programme in 2020 including completion of social infrastructural projects.