News Rivers

FG launches $129.17m agriculture scheme in N’Delta

By Ebi Perekeme

The Federal Government has launched a $129.17 million agriculture scheme to boost income generation and food security in the Niger Delta and the other oil-bearing areas.

Known as the Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises Programme in the Niger Delta (LIFE-ND), the initiative is to enhance economic opportunities for youths and women in the oil-producing states.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, unveiled the scheme yesterday, Dec. 10, in collaboration with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

“The development objective of the LIFE-ND project is to enhance income generation, food security and job creation for rural youths and women through agro-enterprise development on a sustainable basis in the Niger Delta region,” he said.

The minister explained that the policy and institutional framework of the programme date back to 2010 when the Federal Government recognised the need to diversity export earnings and alter its economic growth strategy.

He noted that this was anchored on the Vision 2020 that emphasized a roadmap to a diversified private sector-led economy, agricultural growth and employment creation.

Nanono said the LIFE-ND project had identified top commodities, including cassava, plantain, rice, fish, cocoa, oil palm and poultry, for mass production in the oil-rich region.

He pointed out that the chosen products were economically driven by small and medium enterprises that had over the years experienced poor access to land, finance, and few reliable market outlets, thus posing a challenge to youth and women inclusion.

The minister said the nine oil-producing states are to benefit from the agric scheme.

The project, he added, has both the first phase of six years to be funded by the NDDC and an additional six to be financed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and partners.

Earlier, the representatives of the minister, IFAD and others were received at the NDDC headquarters by the Acting Managing Director, Dr. Joi Nunieh; the Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Chief Ibanga Bassey Etang; and the Director, Agriculture and Fisheries, Mr. George Ero.

In her remarks, Nunieh stated that the commission would take the LIFE-ND delegation into the creeks, adding that the youths were waiting to receive them.

The NDDC’s chief executive said the interventionist agency was very particular about the people in the rural communities.

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