Communities in Niger Delta region have received a major boost with the launch of a $129.17 million Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises Project in the Niger Delta (LIFE-ND) by the Federal Government of Nigeria in collaboration with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Speaking at the formal launch of the project recently in Port Harcourt, the Country Representative of IFAD, Nadine Gbossa said the agricultural project would transform the rural economy of the oil-rich region and would create opportunities for the people, particularly the youth and women in the communities.
Gbossa said the overall goal of the programme is to contribute to the attainment of food security and economic growth of Nigeria through job creation, value addition, and promotion of business enterprises in agriculture, increasing rural income generation and improved livelihoods for youths and women.
“LIFE-ND aims to address the growing numbers of restive youth by sustainably enhancing incomes and food security, and creating jobs for young rural people and women in the Niger Delta. The project will build on the successes of earlier IFAD-supported projects to develop the supply of skilled youth labour, and it will strengthen the capacity of institutions at the state and community levels to work with private sector actors,” she stated.
She disclosed that LIFE-ND will be implemented in the nine Niger Delta states namely: Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers. It will engage 25,500 youth and women, as well as 600 established and potential enterprise incubators. The beneficiaries will be youth aged 18 to 35 years and women-headed households with children under the age of 15. Overall, the project will target 50 per cent male and 50 per cent female participation.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, who was represented by Mohammed Umar, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said “This project will reduce rural-urban migration and criminal activities in the region. It will make the people to realise how much government cares in improving their living standard.
“There is no better time than now for a project like this to be launched. So, we need to take it more seriously and maximally harness its expected benefits,” he appealed.
Speaking, the Acting Managing Director of NDDC, Joi Nunieh, said the LIFE-ND would transform the economy of the Niger Delta.
Represented by George Ero, NDDC Director of Agriculture and Fisheries, Mrs Nunieh said the commission would provide 30 million U.S. dollars (N10.89 billion) as part of its counterpart fund for the project.