Enabling farmers to improve prosperity

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Promoting rural prosperity is key to Nigeria’s future.The World Bank is working with states to drive rural development using agriculture, DANIEL ESSIET writes.

The World Bank’s partnership with Nigeria is geared towards creating jobs and promoting prosperity for all, including those who live and work in the rural communities.

Through its programmes, the bank has sought to open new economic opportunities for rural communities.

One programme the bank is achieving this is through Agriculture Productivity Processing Enhancement and Livelihood Scheme Projects(APPEALS).

A six-year project developed by the World Bank in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and the collaborating states,APPEALSis designed to enhance agricultural productivity of small and medium scale farmers and improve value addition along priority value chains in the participating states.

The bank earmarked $200 million for the project; 60,000 farmers will benefit the project.

The project has the following components: production and productivity enhancement, primary processing, value addition, post-harvest management and women and youth empowerment, infrastructure support to agri-business clusters; technical assistance, knowledge management and communication  and project management and coordination.

Speaking during its second project implementation support mission  held in Lagos, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, (FMARD) Dr. Abdulkadir Mu’azu  said the Federal Government is committed to the project, which aims to develop all the value chains of the smallholder farmers who represent the predominant number in food production, adding that the APPEALS programme has the potential to help tackle food insecurity, poverty and unemployment.

Mu’azu charged participating states to commit to the success of the project, pointing out: “We can change the face of agriculture using those value chains, if we all work hard.”

The World Bank Task Team Leader for the APPEALS project, Dr. Sheu Salau called on the State Coordinating Offices (SCOs) to bring in innovations and expertise in the project implementation.

He stressed the need not to create unnecessary bottle-neck/bureaucracy into the implementation to fasttrack timely implementation. He also urged the need to collaborate with relevant on-going projects at the nation and state levels, Non-Govermental Organisations (NGOs), private sector initiatives and donor agencies to ensure the beneficiaries get value for their involvement in the project.

He said: “You were all appointed to your various positions based on your requisite competence and experiences to deliver on the project development objectives. You are, therefore, expected to bring innovation and work hard as a team.”

The National Project Coordinator, APPEALS and Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, Dr. Amin Babandi, said: “This project is not about the mission team members. It is about the beneficiaries, our farmers who are not in this room.

Represented by National Operations Officer, APPEALS, Salisu Garba, Mr Babandi said  the project is not about meetings or sitting to talk. It is about strategising to effectively translate the development objectives of the project to concrete results.”

 

Babandi hinted that the project will be implemented bottom – up with the farmers/beneficiaries as the major player determining the implementation direction so as to ensure project sustainability.

He implored that all hands must be on deck stressing the need for team work and free flow of information to ensure successful implementation of the project in the participating States of Lagos, Cross-River, Kano, Kaduna, Kogi and Enugu.

The  Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Oluwatoyin Suarau told the gathering that the State is looking forward in earnest to the implementation of APPEALS so that the farmers in the selected value chains in Lagos State can start recording increase in production, productivity, improvement in processing techniques and marketing skills.

He  said: “We are indeed excited about the Women and Youth Empowerment aspect of the project which is supporting one of the major focuses of the present administration of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode in the State.”

One unique feature of APPEALS project, is the inclusion and mainstreaming of persons with disability in all relevant agric value chains under the project. Teams from the World Bank, FMARD, relevant agencies and Partners, State Project Coordinators and key stakeholders werein attendance.

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