No fewer than 4,515 rice and cassava farmers in Anambra State are to receive farm inputs worth N728 million under the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-assisted Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP).

Anmabra State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mechanisation, Processing and Export, Mr. Afam Mbanefo, disclosed this while declaring open the exercise in Awka. He said the inputs disbursement exercise was for the 2017 wet season farming in five VCDP participating local government areas of the state, further assuring that government was determined to make agriculture a business and a major source of income for farmers.

Represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr. Leo Imoka, Mbanefo disclosed that government was investing over N100m on the inputs, including seeds, to boost yam farming for export, and assured that the resources would be distributed to farmers soon.

He challenged the beneficiaries to reciprocate government’s effort in boosting agriculture by utilising the inputs judiciously.

The state Programme Coordinator (SPC), Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP), Mr. Emmanuel Aguncha, in his remarks, disclosed that the inputs distribution targeted 296 farmer organisations on 8,999 hectares of farmland.

He explained that the counterpart payment by IFAD was N364m while the farmers paid a matching grant of N364m.

 Aguncha said each rice farmer would receive 50kg of rice seeds, four bags of NPK, two bags of Urea fertiliser and four litres of herbicide per hectare.

He added that each cassava farmer would get four bags of NPK, 50 bundles of cassava stems, three litres of herbicide and two grants of artrazine per hectare.

“The benefitting farmers were selected from Awka North, Anambra East, Anambra West, Orumba North and Ayamelum local government areas.

“Our emphasis is more on youths and women. We are also going to provide on-the-spot training for them on how to use the inputs.

“The programme carried out a workshop on integrity compliance and business ethics to make the farmers honest and to ensure that inputs were judiciously utilised

“We are also using the e-wallet and involving the supply chain managers; the International FertiliserDevelopment Centre (IFDC) and Cellulant; two development agencies managing the distribution of the inputs for this year,” he stressed.

One of the beneficiaries, Mrs. Adaeze Ukwuego, while commending the state government and VCDP for the early distribution of the inputs, assured that the items wiould be utilised effectively.