By Dennis Agbo
The World Bank assisted Agro-Processing, Productivity, Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support, APPEALS, Project has disclosed that 30 percent of its attention is being paid to Women and youths, whom it said were major practitioners of agriculture.
The APPEALS National Coordinator, Mr. Mohammedi Sani Jobdi made the disclosure during the Pre-sixth implementation support mission and Team A zonal wrap up in Enugu.
He noted that the project being implemented in six states of Cross River, Enugu, kano, Kaduna, Kogi and Lagos was a World Bank/Federal funded project being implemented by the federal ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, with an objective to enhance productivity of medium and small scale farmers and to improve the value addition along the priority value chains.
“The policy thrust of the government is to achieve food security, livelihood and to raise export potentials. The project has by and large keyed into that policy trust of the federal government to make sure we focus on food security, livelihood improvement of our citizens as well as to create export potentials through the different value chains being implemented by the project.
“A key element of the APPEALS project is the women and youth empowerment programme because we are also conscious of the fact that women and youth constitute a larger percentage of the population and you must agree that if you look at most of the farming activities, women contribute greatly and so we emphasis assistance to them and the youths. Based on our record, 30 percent is set aside for the women and youth sub-component of the project.
“We try to emphasize value addition because we are conscious of the fact that apart from production, why most of our products are not selling very well or farmers are not getting higher premium for their produce is as a result of the issue of poor value additions. So APPEALS being conscious of that, we try to improve on value addition right from the aspect of harvest to post harvest handling, processing, storage and marketing.
“Over the last three years, we’ve been able to clear what we call Value Chain Investment Plans, VCIP, because we prepare our beneficiaries in such a way that they can prepare what we call investment plans that will be bankable even after this project because we are thinking and looking beyond APPEALS project after the closure of the project so that our beneficiaries at any point in time will be able to be on sustainable basis to be in their business.
“So with this idea of business plans they come up with instant business investment plans that are bankable. They can even source money apart from the World Bank because the World Bank is only supporting them. Going forward we are trying to create that consciousness that goes just beyond supporting farmers with imputes the traditional way, but if they can come up with investment plans, they should be able to be on their own on a sustainable basis.”
Declaring the seminar open, Deputy Governor of Enugu state, Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo said that the state government was committed to ensuring food security through enhancement of agricultural productivity as a principal aspect of the state’s eight-point development agenda.
Ezeilo emphasized that the Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi administration has agriculture, food production and employment as part of its eight-point development agenda which made it consider the APPEALS project as a major vehicle for the realization of the lofty idea and came earliest among the participating states to launch the project.