Indications are rife that non-payment of counterpart funds by the Anambra State Government for an agricultural programme organised by the Federal Government of Nigeria/ International Fund for Agricultural Development-Value Chain Development Programme (FGN/IFAD-VCDP) may plunge the state into a scarcity of rice and garri.
Daily Vendor gathered that the state has not paid counterpart fund for some years, which is adversely affecting the production of rice and cassava products in the state.
“This is the fifth year running since the Anambra Government last paid her counterpart fund for the FGN/ IFAD-VCDP programme.
“The state first paid the counterpart fund of N94.4m in the year 2015, in 2016, it paid N94.8m, due to additional financing between the years 2021 and 2023 the money rose to N118m yearly, meaning that it is owing about N590 million.
“The programme first began with three Local Government Areas of Anambra East, Anambra West and Ayamelum, later Orumba North, Awka North, and finally Orumba South, Ogbaru and Ihiala,” a source alleged.
Anambra had in 2016 been noted to have hit its highest production capacity in rice, under the Governor Willie Obiano administration, with an annual production of 210,000 metric tons of rice.
It was also gathered that staff of FGN/IFAD-VCDP in the state are owed 13 months’ salaries and other allowances, a situation that has negatively affected the work attitude of the workers and by extension programme implementation.
A staff of the programme who begged not to be named said: “The morale of workers in undertaking their responsibilities to farmers have largely been affected because it is not easy for someone to work for a whole 13 months without salaries and you expect magic from such a worker.”
Anambra State Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Foster Ihejiofor, when contacted on the reason behind the non-payment of the counterpart fund, simply told Journalists to speak with FGN/IFAD-VCDP State Programme Co-ordinator, Mr Emmanuel Agwucha.
On his part, Agwucha told journalists that the matter was not for public consumption.
In his words, “This matter is not for the press, please.”