AGRICULTURE has created opportunities for women and youths to participate in the various value chain of food production. Still wide gaps persist. Many of them face challenges in the bid to contribute to economic growth through agriculture, including limited skills to farm and process crops and financial resources. To address this, the Federal Government launched the World Bank assisted agro processing, productivity enhancement and livelihood improvement support project (APPEALS) to offer opportunities to farmers.
So far, the government is upbeat as the programme has the potential to deliver a great deal to the economy because of its capacity to drive the structural transformation of selected states, from low productivity to higher agro industrial activities.
The states are Lagos, Enugu, Kogi, Kaduna, Cross River and Kano.
Addressing an interactive project facilitation training in Lagos, the Project Operations Manager, Dr Salisu Garba, said the project was expected to offer substantial opportunities for small-scale food processing and create more jobs that are desperately needed in rural areas.
He explained that the challenge of value addition features prominently in agriculture, which is linked to low level of investment in agribusiness and agro industrialisation.
To help bridge the gap, he said APPEALS has provided an approach which offers economies of scale support to farmers and a shared knowledge and investment platform. The project wants to ensure long term food security and improvement of livelihood of farmers through sharing information through training on production, stocks and utilisation of food reserve.
He stressed that to increase capacities of Nigerians in the rural areas to make a living from agriculture, there is a need for the various officers from state APPEALS offices to understand the technicalities of the project and how to help farmers in their areas learn modern food production practices.
The state Project Coordinator, Lagos APPEALS, Mrs. Oluranti Oviebo, said the goal of the project in the state is to empower farmers to produce value added goods that are competitive and better able to reach growth targets.
Mrs. Oviebo said the project was receiving the support of the government to increase food production.
She said the project recognises small holder agricultural development as an excellent way to reduce poverty and hunger and that it is working through cluster groups towards a diversified food production.
She said the number of the project direct beneficiaries for Lagos is estimated at 10,000 while 50,000 farm household members are indirect beneficiaries.
She said the value chains supported by APPEALS in Lagos are aquaculture, poultry and rice.
The State Project Coordinator, Cross River State, Dr Agim Marcel, said the project has all the ingredients to promote diverse food production that play a vital role for nutrition and food security.
According to him, Cross River State is already experiencing increasing agro production activities generated by APPEALS impact on the cultivation of crops such as cocoa, rice among others.
The APPEALS’ Women & Youth/Livelihood Specialist, Ms. Heather Akanni said for local women entrusted with the task of feeding their families the project offered an opportunity to produce crops and earn income.
SOURCE: THE NATION