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COVID-19, rains threaten delivery of N22b ATASP-1 rural projects

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Delays caused by heavy rains and lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic may affect timely delivery of the March 2021 completion date of Phase One of the Anambra State Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Programme.

The Federal Government and African Development Bank (AfDB)-sponsored programme in which Ayamelum, Orumba North, Orumba South and Ogbaru council areas were beneficiaries, commenced in February 2016.

But the outbreak of COVID-19 in February 2020, which led to lockdown of the entire country, had delayed the progress of work in the infrastructure development, commodity value chain development and programme management components of the programme.

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Also, stakeholders are apprehensive that the heavy rains may disrupt work in the ATASP-1 projects aimed at attracting private sector investment in agriculture to increase incomes of small holder farmers and rural entrepreneurs engaged in production, processing, storage and marketing of selected commodity value chains.

Zonal Programme Coordinator of ATASP-1, Romanus Egba, disclosed that there has been delay in the implementation of the economic infrastructure, which constitutes about 70 per cent of the projects’ cost.

Egba who spoke during the presentation of the Quarterly Technical Review Report to stakeholders including the Commissioner for Agriculture, Nnamdi Onukwuba, said notwithstanding the few hiccups, satisfactory progress has been made.

He pointed out that poor management in most communities due to failure of host communities to take ownership of the programmes had hindered a few of the projects. Egba further explained that the ATASP-1 would plan a meeting to sensitise community leaders on the need to drive the process. He mentioned some of the benefits of the projects to include feeder roads, canal lining, land development, pump station at Omor, community health centre, primary schools and produce markets.

Under the infrastructure development, Egba hinted that the contract for the concrete lining of 16.66kilometre Main Canal and Debilitation of various hydraulic structures at Adani had reached 10 per cent success since the award of contract, noting that the contractor was yet to mobilise to site.

He also said about 35 per cent of work has been achieved in the construction of 16kilometre W7 W14 Omor Road by Raycon Nigeria Limited, 17kilometre double-surfaced Rice Mill along Umuelum Road and E13-E72-E71 by Heriprom Nigeria Limited.

According to him, ATASP was awaiting approval from the AfDB in the Package 2 Lot 2 land development of 150 hectares of agricultural land at Omor where about 10 percent progress had been achieved, among other components of the programme.

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