International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has invested more than N2.7 billion to boost rice and cassava production in Benue State since September last year.
Emmanuel Igba, the IFAD state programme coordinator, disclosed this in Makurdi at its first quarter meeting recently. He said the programme was being executed through the IFAD- Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) partnership with the Benue State government.
He specifically called on the Benue State government to pay its counterpart funding of N94.8 million for the programme to successfully meets its target of boosting the production of rice and cassava in the state.
He stated that OLAM through IFAD-VCDP supported 3,455 farmers to cultivate 5,387 hectares of rice last year, resulting in the increase to 3,198 hectares as against 2,189 hectares recorded in 2016.
Igba explained that IFAD had supported 1,392 cassava farmers to boost their production, stressing that IFAD had created jobs for over 3500 youths and 502 women in rice and cassava production in the state.
He appealed to the state government to extend the programme to other local government areas to create jobs for women and youths.
He, however, expressed concerns over the herdsmen/farmers crises, which have affected rice farmers and called for off-takers for cassava.
James Abua, the commissioner of agriculture and natural resources in the state, said the state executive council had received a memo for the payment of N188 million as the counterpart fund for IFAD and FADAMA III programme to run for two years.