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RANGELAND

FG, AfDB to provide irrigation facilities in rural areas

NAN

The Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Programme Phase 1 (ATASP-1) of the African Development Bank and the Federal Government will collaborate to provide irrigation facilities, farm inputs and feeder roads in rural areas.

National Coordinator of the programme, Mr. Haruna Akwashiki, disclosed this in Abuja on Wednesday during the Mid-Term Review of ATASP-1 to know the successes, challenges and way forward.

The national coordinator said that youths training and empowerment, agro-processing and provision of simple post-harvest equipment would also be given priority during the second phase of the programme.

He said that the second phase of the programme would commence immediately.

Akwashiki explained that the key outcomes of the programme included creation of 120,000 jobs, training and empowerment of 200,000 youths and women as well as production of 20,000 metric tonnes of rice, cassava and sorghum.

According to him, the Mid-Term Review is to assess the performance of the programmes’ first phase, discuss achievements, challenges and way forward for the second phase.

‘‘I sincerely believe that the review will consolidate ATASP-1 achievements and strengthen the commitment of our donor, the AfDB.

‘‘ATASP-1 will focus on rural infrastructure, youth training and empowerment, agro-processing, provision of basic inputs like fertilisers, seeds, agro-chemical to farmers.

‘‘The programme is addressing the constraints of rice, sorghum and cassava value chains in four staple crops processing zones,’’ he said.

A representative of AfDB, Mr. Ibrahim Ahmodou, said the review would help the bank to get first hand information on the physical implementation and financial activities of the programme.

‘‘We want to listen to the beneficiaries, we want them to express their views freely to make the next phase of the programme more successful,’’ he added.

Some representatives from the participating states of the programme commended the Federal Government and AfDB for the agricultural successes recorded in the states through ATASP-1.

Mr Samuel Onyiaji, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture in Enugu State, said the agriculture programme had assisted many rice, cassava and sorghum farmers in the state.

Alhaji Garba Sani-Shuni, the Permanent Secretary, Sokoto State Ministry of Agriculture, said the impact of ATASP-1 had only been felt in one out of the 23 Local Government Areas of the state.

Sani-Shuni called for a wider coverage to impact more farmers in the state, adding that rehabilitation of irrigation schemes would benefit more farmers in the state.

‘‘ATASP water projects and feeder roads in Sokoto have gotten up to 90 per cent completion but what our farmers are interested in is irrigation facilities.

‘‘If irrigation scheme is revived, we can put out about 400 hectares of rice with a minimum of four tonnes per hectare,’’ he said.

ATASP-1 was developed by AfDB and Federal Government in 2015 to contribute to food and nutrition security, employment generation and wealth creation along the rice, cassava and sorghum value chains.

ATASP-1 seven participating states are Anambra, Enugu, Kano, Kebbi, Jigawa, Niger and Sokoto.

The programme comprises three components of infrastructure development, commodity value chain development and programme management. (NAN)

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