The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, yesterday inaugurated $129.17 million agricultural scheme as part of the federal government's drive to diversify the country's export earnings and alter its economic growth strategy.
Speaking during the inauguration of "Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises", yesterday in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, Nanono said the programme was designed for the nine oil-producing states.
He listed the states to benefit from the scheme as Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Rivers, Imo and Ogun.
"The project is part of the federal government drive to diversify the nation's export earnings as well as alter its economic growth strategy. The project's objective is to enhance income generation, food security and job creation for rural youths and women through agro-enterprise development.
"The target is for the states to benefit from a six-year implementation period and another six years financing gap, making a total of 12 years project cycle.
"NDDC will provide parallel finance in the first phase of six years, while the additional six years will be financed by IFAD with other additional support."
He added, "The federal government has identified top agricultural commodities for implementation in the Niger Delta such as cassava, plantain, rice, fish, cocoa, oil palm and poultry. This project over the years has witnessed poor access to land; poor access to credit as well as few reliable market outlets."