The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-Assisted Value Chain Development Programme (VDCP) in Ebonyi has sought improved tractor availability for its benefiting youths in Ebonyi.
Mrs Fransisca Anya, the Rural Institution Gender Youth Mainstreaming Officer (RIGMO), made the call on Tuesday in Abakaliki during a knowledge sharing and networking forum organised for the programme’s benefiting youths in the state.
Anya said that accessing tractors to plough their farms on time was a major challenge confronting the youths as it makes them commence cultivation late.
“We advocate for more tractors to be given to them at least one for each benefiting Local Government Area (LGA) in the state because it will enhance their farming capabilities.
“IFAD-VCDP offers one tractor which is presently used by the youths but more tractors will be desirable at this period.
“The privately-owned tractors have proved to be insufficient because many farmers need them thereby making them not easily accessible by our programme’s benefiting youths,” she said.
Anya noted that in spite of the challenge, the youth have performed creditably in their various endeavours across the state as over 80 per cent of them were thriving in their farming endeavours.
“Some of the youth have cultivated more than 2.5 hectares of pro-vitamin cassava with Mrs Cynthia Edeze, Emmanuel Nkama, Chinyere Chukwu, Samuel Oduko and Dickson Agwu among others performing creditably to IFAD’s expectation.
“Edeze, for example, has been in the lead of the youth team both in terms of production and acreage and she commended the cultivation of two hectares while others were crawling.
Anya added that the forum’s objective was to bring youths to a networking platform where they would share experiences on the field on the inherent prospects and challenges.
“We have trained cassava and rice entrepreneurs who in turn have trained other youths to key into the programme,” she said.
“We intend to raise the production and related capacities of these youths to make them compete favourably with youths from other benefiting IFAD-VCDP states and help in achieving the programme’s overall objectives,” she said.
Edeze in her presentation said that she faced several challenges before rising to the top but persevered and tenaciously applied all tutorials received from IFAD-VCDP.
“I started with little funds and executed my farm activities alone with finance being the greatest challenge in the beginning.
“Presently, I have recorded financial breakthrough as a cassava stem multiplier and reel in millions after selling the produce from my farms,” she said.
Mr Eze Ama-Oko, a youth farmer from Afikpo South LGA, said that he joined IFAD-VCDP in 2015 and had received training both within and outside the state.
“I approached farming as a means of subsistence before I joined IFAD-VCDP but the tutorials I have received from the organisation made me to realise that it is one the most lucrative ventures one could embark upon.
“I was given fero-52 (rice variety) in 2017 by one of the youths trained at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) who unfortunately could not effectively utilise it.
“I planted one hectare with it and luckily after harvest, I realised 4.2 metric tonnes as I applied the best agronomic practices with the help of IFAD-VCDP’s extension officers,’’ he said.