As part of efforts to alleviate poverty and boost economic growth in the Niger Delta, the Federal Government introduced to the Community Based Natural Resource Management Programme (CBNRMP).
The Federal Government is executing some projects in the area under the programme, in collaboration with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
IFAD’s Executive Board approved CBNRMP in July 2002, while an agreement on its commencement was signed by the benefiting states in July 2003.
CBNRMP is aimed at alleviating poverty and improving the living standards of about 400,000 people in communities across the Niger Delta states of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers.
The programme is being implemented via a bottom-top approach, as the communities and groups are allowed to select their projects, while the beneficiaries are involved in field monitoring and project supervision.
CBNRMP is, however, expected to terminate in September 2013 but several stakeholders are of the view that the overall objective of the programme may not be attained by 2013.
Chief Okoro Okoroafia, the Chairman of Arochukwu Local Government Council in Abia, believes that if the programme is properly implemented, it has enormous potential to transform the lives of the beneficiaries.
“But the impacts are yet to be noticed because the programme is still at the pilot stage of implementation.
“There is the need for the extension of the programme, it is also necessary to expand the programme to all the local government areas of the participating states,’’ he adds.
Okoroafia, nonetheless, emphasises that the programme ought to be managed like a business venture for it to become sustainable, even beyond 2013.
“There are still uncompleted projects everywhere, and we need to ensure that before the programme ends, all beneficiaries would have extended their projects beyond the pilot stage,’’ he says.
Okoroafia identifies lack of commitment as one of the major factors limiting the attainment of the objectives of the CBNRMP; noting that many beneficiaries are not paying their counterpart funds.
Mark Ezeala, the CBNRMP Programme Officer in Abia, says that the project in the state would have gone beyond the current stage but for some financial constraints.
Ike Onyenweaku, the Commissioner for Agriculture in Abia, concedes that on few occasions, the state government failed to pay its counterpart funds.
“There could be one or two months when the state government failed to meet up; we try to disburse what we have but all the arrears will be paid,” he says.
Onyenweaku, nonetheless, underscores the need for a technical plan to take CBNRMP to the next level.
Atsuko Toda, IFAD Country Programme Manager, also stresses the need for increased cooperation by beneficiaries.
“This project is moving towards attaining its objectives but this really depends on the nine participating states,’’ she says.
Toda, some NDDC officials and programme consultants recently came to Abia for the 5th IFAD Direct Supervision Mission.
During the tour, the officials visited a rice demonstration farm and an oil palm processing plant at Umuezike, Ofeme, in Umuahia North Local Government Area.
“What we saw was very fantastic. We saw a group of farmers using a new variety of rice as well as chemicals to kill weeds; therefore, their farming requires less labour,’’ Toda says.
“IFAD has an objective and the project is moving towards achieving the objectives,’’ she adds.
The IFAD official notes the only Abia, Cross River, Edo and Ondo are doing relatively well in the programme implementation, urging the other benefiting states to put in extra efforts and show more commitment.
“We need to share new technologies to farmers and make sure that the technologies go beyond the areas, which the IFAD project is currently covering in the participating nine states,” she says.
On the possibility of extending the programme, Toda insists the programme could be extended, only if its extension would make a difference.
“There is a chance of extending the programme but we have to be sure that if the programme is extended by one year, it will make a difference in terms of greater impact on more poor people.
“But I don’t feel it will be necessary to extend the programme in the states where there is less commitment to implement, sustain and scale up the IFAD project.
“I will like to continue with the states that have shown their commitment, ownership and ability to carry out the activities because I think that the only way for us to reach poor people is when the states are committed,’’ she stresses.
All the same, Mr Kenneth Ononukwu, the Chairman of Chinwe Rice Cooperative Society in Ofeme, Abia, concedes that the programme has transformed the lives of the people of the neighbourhood.
“At the moment, we have 68 hectares of rice farm; we spent N153,000 on labour for the cultivation of one hectare of rice farm and we have a minimum of N300,000 gross income and a net income of N147, 000,’’ Ononukwu says.
Nevertheless, Ben Odoemenam, IFAD Country Programme Officer, believes that a lot still ought to be done to enable the programme’s beneficiaries to get more value for their labour.
He stresses that factors such as the lack of technical support and competence are still hindering the beneficiaries’ efforts to fully exploit the programme’s potential.
Odoemenam attributes this to the fact that the beneficiaries have yet to embrace modern trends in agriculture, adding that the insincerity of most state governments as regards agricultural development is also a limiting factor.
He, however, underscores the need to encourage farmers to adopt mechanised farming and other modern farming techniques so as to engender increased agricultural production.
Stakeholders are, however, of the view that tangible efforts should be made to expand and streamline the IFAD project in the country to enable it to meet the goals of the Federal Government’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda in a pragmatic way.
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Category: Other States