FG/IFAD, NDDC to scale-up LIFE-ND project in Niger-Delta

The Federal Government and the International Fund for Agricultural Development Programme (IFAD) say they are committed to scaling up implementation of Livelihood Improvement and Family Enterprises Project in Niger Delta (LIFE-ND).

Mrs Dede Ekoue, Country Director, IFAD, gave the assurance at the Federal Government and IFAD LIFE-ND Joint 4th Supervision Mission workshop on Wednesday in Abuja.

LIFE-NG project is in response to the limited readily available options for the “disadvantaged” (youth and women) in the rural and suburban communities to improve their means of livelihood and help them to live decent lives.

Ekoue said the implementation would be scaled up in three states of Rivers, Imo and Akwa-Ibom.

“We look forward to a scaling up of the project results in the three states originally planned to be funded by Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

“LIFE-ND is a programme that has demonstrated successful impact over its five years of implementation.

“The specific objective of the project is to enhance income, food security and job creation for rural youth and women through agri-enterprise development on a sustainable basis in the nine Niger-Delta states.

“The states are Abia, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Ondo financed by IFAD while Akwa-Ibom, Imo and Rivers have yet to commence the project implementation under the NDDC funding.’’

The country director said the supervision mission provided an opportunity to support LIFE-ND to catalyse additional progress for youth and women agribusiness, food security and inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

She explained that the mission would identify additional strategies to deliver more value to the youth and women agribusiness and to the Niger Delta communities.

“The mission is happening at a critical junction as IFAD is working on the request for additional finance for the LIFE-ND second phase in the six states covered by IFAD/FG funding, “she said.

The director urged the supervision mission team to utilise the opportunity to invest fully in the mission to prepare ways for greater impact of the project on the agro-food system transformation in the Niger-Delta.

Mr Bukar Musa, Director Project Coordinating Unit, FNAFS, said the ministry had made a lot of efforts to sustain LIFE-ND project.

Musa identified one the efforts as sending series of reminder to NDDC through the Ministry of Niger Delta to produce their financial commitment to bring the three states under its funding on board.

The director, who assured that the commission would son redeem its pledge, emphasised that efforts were being made for the expansion of the project to other states.

“We have forwarding memos and letters to the Federal Ministry of Finance for onward delivery to IFAD for the reallocation of additional finance of the unallocated six million dollars.

“The ministry has equally sent similar letters for the release of 20 million dollars additional financing to forestall any financing gap between the project first phase and second phase.

” We have started negotiation of the second phase to enable or bring in more states especially the states of Rivers, Akwa-Ibom and Imo which hitherto have not enjoyed IFAD funding because they are funded by the NDDC, “he said.

Musa identified supervision mission as integral to any project in order to access the journey so far.

Dr Abiodun Sanni, National Project Coordinator, FG/IFAD LIFE-ND, said the project had two main components comprising enhancement of economic opportunities for rural youth and women headed household as well as project management and coordination.

Sanni said that the first component was aimed at ensuring efficient and effective management of the project achieving results with communication and knowledge management integrated in all aspects of operations, approaches and activities.

“The other component is aimed at facilitating the establishment of economically and environmentally sustainable agribusiness by beneficiaries.

“LIFE-ND uses an innovative enterprise development model that leverages investments from Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to support unemployed youth and women in high income and job creation enterprises,” he said.

Dr Samuel Ogbuku, Managing Director, NDDC, identified LIFE-ND objectives as domiciled within the commissions mandate areas.

Ogbuku, represented by Dr Olumide Epebinu, Director, Agriculture and Fisheries, NDDC, said the commission would work assiduously to ensure effective implementation of the project in the three targeted states under its funding.

Similarly, Ms Munet Sadiku, Representative of the Federal Ministry of Finance, said the ministry was collaborating with IFAD to secure the approval of additional financing.

“Additional financing will further enhance our capability to address the challenges faced by our farmers and expand the positive impact of the LIFE-ND project,’’ she said

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