The Federal Government’s Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises for the Niger Delta (LIFE-ND) project has incorporated Abia State as one of its beneficiaries; joining eight states from the region.
LIFE-ND, hunched on the VISION-2020 goals, is assisted by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and was birthed from the need to diversify the economy, create jobs, and upscale agriculture.
With Abia State included as part of the project, the state inaugurated a 15-man committee, chaired by its Commissioner for Agriculture, Prof. Ikechi Mgbeoji, to champion this cause.
LIFE-ND is currently being implemented in 100 Abia communities, according to guidelines set by IFAD. The scheme will place special focus on agricultural commodities common in the region.
The commodities, as enumerated on LIFE-ND’s website, include cassava, plantain, fish, cocoa, oil palm, and poultry.
National Liaison Officer of LIFE-ND, Dr. Chinwe Onyegbula said the overall goal was to realize a transformed rural economy in which the rural population can derive prosperity and equal benefit.
According to Onyegbula, the committee will oversee the entire process, develop and approve a blueprint, and budget for the scheme.
She explained that the onus lies on the Committee, “to provide oversight functions, approve annual Work Plan and Budget as well as facilitate the effective participation of relevant state actors in the project.”
The State Coordinator, Dr. Uchenna Onyeizu, said the first phase of the programme covers 10 of the 17 local councils and 10 communities per area based on defined criteria.
According to Onyeizu, LIFE-ND’s primary target group was the unemployed and under-employed youths aged 18-35 years.
Included also are women-headed households with children under the age of 15 years to engage in the production, processing, and marketing of the selected commodities in their communities.