By Edwin Nwanojuo
Dr Memuna Habib of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has said that inadequate technology is a major challenge in implementing of donor-assisted agricultural projects in the country.
Habib, the Coordinating Director of the Project Coordinating Unit (PCU) in the Ministry made this known on Thursday while speaking with journalists.
Habib said that many of the projects depended on technology, especially machinery and equipment.
She said that funds for such projects could be better utilised if disbursed directly to farmers rather than being spent on acquiring technology.
“Monies from international donor agencies are loans, and if we commit them all into technology, there will be little or nothing left for farmers.
“Government should go into the provision of mechanised tools so that the money received from donor agencies goes directly to farmers,’’ she said.
The PCU director also identified the “cumbersome process of vetting’’ by relevant government ministries and agencies as another setback for donor-funded projects.
“Sometimes where objection is not fast approved, it would affect the implementation process and if implementation teams are not fully well trained, it will affect the implementation process as well.
“PCU members were charged to utilise their expertise and help reduce project costs and maximise results.’’
Habib said that PCU reviewed oncoming projects and ensured alignment with the Agriculture Promotion Policy (APP) and Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
“PCU recently reviewed closed projects to ensure the sustainability and some of the closed projects are Rural Financing Institution Building Programme (RUFIN), West Africa Agriculture Productivity Programme (WAAP), Commercial Agricultural Development Project (CADP).
“All these projects operated in Nigeria for a long time which they have also closed down. PCU is now doing Evaluation Completion Report by the time we are done, we will submit with the management of ministry of agriculture.
“Ministry of Agriculture will take it to Federal Ministry of Finance for approval. This is to ensure transparency and accountability.
“It will also ensure that whatever was given for the project in the ministry is well taken care of and it is implemented in line with the project documents.’’
The director said that PCU also prepared and negotiated pipeline projects in the West Africa Agricultural Transformation Project (WAATP), Livestock Project Support System (L-PRESS).
Others are Niger Delta Livelihood Programme (ND- LIFE) for the nine oil producing states and Regional Disease Surveilance System Enhancement (REDISSE), is a component of Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Health.
She said that PCU participated in the supervisory missions of ongoing projects and performed any function relating to development partners in the ministry and duties assigned by the permanent secretary.
Habib said that the unit would enhance accountability and effective management of development partner funded projects and guaranteed the monitoring of the ministry’s loans and how it was being used.
According to her, the ongoing projects are Agricultural Transformation Support Programme (ATASP), Rural Access Mobility Project (RAMP), Agro Processing Enterprise (APPEALS), Climate Adaptation Support Project (CASP).
Other ongoing projects are Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) and Fadama Development Programme. All these six projects are in full force and in operation all over the country.
Habib urged youths to take advantage of all these projects and be involved in agriculture because of the value chain and value addition will be beneficial to them.
“The youths can be involved in production at the first stage, the processing, storage, packages and market agricultural commodities with their laptops and phones.
“They can earn enough money for their daily usage and for their enjoyment in life because agricultural is business all over the world,’’ she said.