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By NBF News
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THE Federal Government has released N1 billion as arrears for the implementation of the National Programme for Food Security (NPFS), an official of the Ministry has said.

The NPFS National Coordinator, Alhaji Bukar Tijani, told the News Agency of Nigeria, in Lagos, yesterday, that the 2007/2008 NPFS arrears were appropriated in the 2010 budget of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Tijani said that the money had been transferred to all the states and FCT that had complied with the directive to open domiciliary accounts for the programme.

He disclosed that more than 70,000 beneficiaries were being targeted directly and 765,000 beneficiaries through the outreach programme.

He added that the programme was being implemented in 327 local governments in the country.

According to the coordinator, the programme has recorded success in production enhancement and diversification as well as encouraging emphasis towards supporting small producers.

The NPFS boss said that from inception to date, 112,426 hectares of rain-fed crop modules had been promoted, 866 hectares promoted under irrigated crop modules and another 122,000 hectares promoted under the community seed development, from inception to date.

Tijani stressed that the NPFS community development component had facilitated the participation of rural communities in the development process.

Consequently, more than 5,000 groups had been formed with one apex group functional in each of the 327 sites across the country, he said.

'The progress is very encouraging because a lot has been achieved, from inception to date with over 1,264 layers, 939 broilers, 825 goats/sheep fattening and upgrading modules being implemented under the animal production,' he said.

The coordinator further explained that 61 ADP staff and 1,635 farmers were trained on agro processing and storage technologies, while 52 nurseries, 102 orchards, 35 bee keeping, and seven grass cutter enterprise modules also implemented.

On Fadama III implementation, he noted that the participating 35 states and the FCT had received the initial deposit of more than $600,000, adding that the disbursement of the funds to the user groups had commenced.

'To date the IDA contribution is 250 million dollars and the drawdown is $74,427 million, which represents a great achievement and the commitment of the government to the programme,' he said.

Tijani said that 134-kilometre roads, 20 culverts, 21 small bridges and one hectare grazing reserve had been constructed and put into usage under Fadama III while  566  participating communities had embarked on at least one productive rural infrastructure programme.

He also noted that 1,450 cottage industries, including groundnut oil, cassava and livestock and kilishi processing had been established.

Similarly, 1,972 small-scale irrigation, 89 water control structures and 2,316 agriculture enterprise developments were also established.

He said that Fadama III was targeting 2.2 million rural households as direct beneficiaries, adding that 3,591 Fadama Community Associations FCAs) made up of 44,927 users groups had been formed and registered across the 35 participating states and the FCT.