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The Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Programme Phase one (ATASP-1),  a joint programme of the  Federal Government and the African Development Bank says it will fast-track the complete implementation of irrigation facilities, feeder roads and training of 40,000 youths by 2020 on rice, cassava and sorghum value chains.

The new National Project Coordinator (NPC) of the project, Alhaji Ibrahim Muhammad Arabi, disclosed this during a conversation with Daily Trust in Abuja.

The programme, which started in 2015 with funding of $175.85 including grants, was designed to strengthen production and value chain development in three major crops – rice, sorghum and cassava – across the implementing states.

The 7-year project is ongoing in 200 rural communities, 33 local government areas in seven states of the federation – Anambra, Enugu, Niger, Kano, Jigawa, Kebbi and Sokoto.

Alhaji Arabi said the project has contributed to the food and nutrition security, job and wealth creation objectives of the nation’s agricultural policy.

He said about 299,615 jobs have been created compared to the initial target of 120,000 while 209,464 metric tonnes of food valued at N36.2 billion has been injected into the economy as against a target of 100,000 metric tonnes.

The NPC also noted that as a result of the programme intervention, area of the land cultivation in the three major crops scaled up from 68,000 hectares to 73,506.71 hectares.

Despite these successes, however, the major challenges of the programme, according to the  coordinator, have to do with lack of payment of counterpart funds from some of the participating states.

He however expressed hope that the remaining years for the implementation would record significant success as attention will be focused on boosting irrigation activities across the states, particularly along the rice value chain.

The programme is located in four Staple Crop Processing Zones of Adani-Omor, Bida-Badeggi, Kano-Jigawa and Kebbi-Sokoto.

Source: Daily Trust

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