Benue State government has released the sum of N166 million being outstanding arrears of the counterpart funds for the IFAD Rice and Cassava Value Chain Development Programme, leading to the smooth takeoff and implementation of the programme in the state.
The sum of N217 million, which was also outstanding arrears of counterpart funding for the smooth takeoff and implementation of Fadama 111 Additional Financing Development Project has also been released.
These were disclosed by the state Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, James Ambua, during ministerial press briefing at the NUJ House, Makurdi, yesterday.
The commissioner further disclosed that the cumulative impact of the project on Benue farmers had led to the improvement of yield in the rice and cassava enterprises from 1.2 MTS and 13 MTS prior to the takeoff of the project to 3.5 MTS and 25 MTS per hectare for rice and cassava respectively in the 2016 cropping season.
He revealed that the state in collaboration with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, had signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with a foreign investor for the establishment of a bio-fuel plant in Agasha, Guma Local Government Area.
The project, he said, would also involve the establishment of sugar cane and cassava plantations for the provision of raw materials needed by the plant, stressing that plans were at advance stage for the takeoff of the project.
The commissioner also stated that Benue State Swine/Crops Integrated Project which is the first of its kind in West Africa, had produced more than 800 piglets which had been sold to farmers across the country as parent stocks to establish their farms. He said the programme had aided the establishment of more than fifty farms with exotic breeds within and outside Benue State.