Rice, Garri Scarcity May Hit Anambra Over Govt’s Failure to Pay Counterpart Fund

By Ikeugonna Eleke

There are fears that non-payment of counterpart fund by the Anambra State Government for the 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 scarcity of rice and garri.

A source who spoke to Fides yesterday in Awka on condition of anonymity, said the state had not paid counterpart fund for some years now and that it was adversely affecting the production of rice and cassava products in the state.

‘This is the fifth year running since Anambra Government last paid her counterpart fund for the FGN/ IFAD-VCDP programme last.

‘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 year 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,’ the source stated.

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 has 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.’

The 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.

For his part, Agwucha told journalists that the matter was not for public consumption, saying, ‘This matter is not for the press please.’