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The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will inject 75 million dollars into the new Value Chain Development Programme which is now in its final design stages, an official said. Mr Abdoul Barry, the IFAD Country Programme Manager, made the disclosure  in Abuja.

Barry said that the programme, which targets Nigeria's two major staples - cassava and rice emerged from the UN agency's Country Strategic Opportunities Programme (COSOP) approved by IFAD's Executive Board in April 2010.

He said that the programme targeted smallholder farmers, including women, youths and men actively involved in agriculture and would be implemented through the Community-Driven Development approach.

He said before the commencement of full implementation of the programme, farmers and farmer organisations would be sensitised while the National Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) system would also be strengthened.

Barry said that 500,000 dollars had been earmarked for the two activities with 400,000 dollars budgetted for  sensitisation and 100,000 dollars for strengthening monitoring and evaluation.

On the issue of possible co-financing of the programme, the country programme manager said IFAD was willing to collaborate with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

He explained that IFAD had approached AfDB for possible collaboration on the new plan and that the bank could only decide where to invest its resources when its Country Strategy Programme for Nigeria was ready.

'The IFAD-funded Value Chain Programme cannot undertake all activities along the value chain. We will have to collaborate with certain donor-funded programmes.

'We have already approached the ADB to try to co-finance the current programme. ADB is about to start  the Country Strategy Programme for Nigeria. When they do, around November-December, they will know exactly where to invest.

'But the ADB is very good at funding activities related to infrastructure,' he said. Barry explained that IFAD was good in training and mobilising communities but would need to partner with organisations good in the area of providing processing technologies and infrastructure.

A wrap up meeting on the FGN/IFAD Value Chain Design Mission held in Abuja, attracted agricultural stakeholders from public and private institutions, including banks, for the presentation of the Aide Memoire of the programme.

The first design mission for the programme was held in October 2010, while the second mission held between May 23 and June 9.  Implementation of the programme is expected to commence by February 2012, after approval by the IFAD Board in December.

IFAD is currently funding the Community-Based Natural Resource Management Programme (CBNRMP) in the nine Niger Delta states and the Community-Based Agricultural Development Programme (CBARDP) in seven states in the northern part of the country.

Since it commence activities in Nigeria in 1985, IFAD has contributed to financing nine projects/programmes in the country.

The total cost of these interventions is approximately 642 million dollars, including counterpart funding and co-financing. Of this amount, IFAD loans account for 187.4 million dollars.