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Abia clears way for Life-ND agric project implementation

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One of the issues affecting the implementation of the Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises, Niger Delta (LIFE-ND) project in Abia State is being eased by the special intervention of the state government, led by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.

The LIFE-ND is a 12-year $90 million project co-funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

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While IFAD contributes $60 million, the NDDC contributes $30 million.

The LIFE-ND project is targeted at alleviating poverty among rural poor communities, women-headed households and physically challenged persons aged between 18 and 35 years in the nine Niger Delta states by training them in agriculture-related enterprises and thereafter empowering them with start-up capitals.

Implementation of the programne was initially challenged by non-release the 4,000 hectares of land needed for the project, for which 100 communities were selected from 10 local government areas across the state.

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The State Project Coordinator, Dr Uchenna Rowland Onyeizu, disclosed recently that the state government had given about 215 hectares of land, comprising 200 at Ohambele in Ukwa East Local Council, 15 at Nsulu Games village, 50 from Umuodo Ihie community, all in Isiala Ngwa North LGA, while about 120 hectares are coming from family donations.

He disclosed that the loan is repayable and revolving.

He also said as much as the project required a large expanse of land, he appealed to the donors to donate same voluntarily and unconditionally, stressing that the project did not provide for direct land acquisition and or compensation to the donors.

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So far, 260 persons have undergone residential training at various incubation centres across 50 communities in batches on cassava, oil palm, rice production and poultry farming.

After their training, they were attached to relevant establishments tagged “incubators” (52 of them) for the practicals before being qualified for start-up working capital.

An incubator, Mrs Gladys Ogbonna, said the start-up capital had underscored the seriousness of the project, though they were initially skeptical.

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