More than 10,000 small-scale farmers in Kogi state are to benefit from a 200-million Dollar grant under the World Bank-Assisted Agro Processing Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Support (APPEALS) project.
The state Project Coordinator of APPEALS, Dr Abdullahi Ozomata who disclosed in Lokoja said the project was aimed at promoting transition from subsistence farming to agribusiness in seven states, including Kogi.
Ozomata hinted that the World Bank counterpart-free grant, in line with the “Green Alternative”, aimed to support value addition cluster farmers in three crops of rice, cassava and cashew in which the state have comparative production advantage.
He said that the baseline study of the project implementation had been concluded while its Needs Assessment was on-going in view of the bottom-top approach, to identify production gaps in the crops’ value chain.
He said Kano, Kaduna, Enugu, Cross-Rivers, Lagos and Kogi States were selected after a competitive process for selection of the benefitting states of the APPEALS project expected to last seven years.
According to him, small-scale farmers holding between one and five hectares through the project were expected to be upgraded to between five and 10 hectares in the various value chain crops.
He said that existing data on farmers in the state would be subjected to validation to enable the project identify the real farmers rather than political farmers.
“We are looking forward to working with the real farmers and not political farmers. The project is also going to look at rural infrastructure and farm clusters so that it can enhance their farming activities and livelihood.
“Women and youths sub-component also gives them the opportunity to partake in other farming activities within the priority value chain of the project”, he said.
Ozomata added that the APPEALS project had five main components including production and productivity enhancement; primary processing; value addition; post-harvest management and women/youth empowerment.
Other sub-components, he said, include infrastructure support, technical assistance, knowledge and communication, management and coordination adding that the sensitisation programme would include all stakeholders.
Ozomata solicited the support and cooperation of the media and all other stakeholders for the success of the project in the state.