LAGOS – Farmers in Lagos state who are beneficiaries of the Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) Project, have expressed delight on the project, stating that it has been a blessing to their lives and businesses since inception.
APPEALS Project, a six-year project, which is expected to run between 2017 and 2023, is a World Bank assisted project, implemented through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in six participating states which are; Cross River, Enugu, Kaduna, Kano, Kogi and Lagos.
The project which is in line with the Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP) 2016-2020 of the Federal Government, also known as the Green Alternative, is built on the legacy of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA), and it is plan to support policy thrusts on food security, local production, job creation and economic diversification.
Lagos APPEALS has recorded a lot toward achieving the objective of the Project, which is to enhance agricultural productivity of small and medium scale farmers and improve value addition in Poultry, Aquaculture and Rice production.
It has provided tremendous support to farmers in the five components that made up the Project which are; Production and productivity enhancement; Primary processing, value addition, post-harvest management and women and youth empowerment; Infrastructure support to agribusiness clusters; Technical assistance, knowledge management and communication; Project management and coordination.
Members of some Community Interest Groups (CIG) and individuals under the Lagos APPEALS Project in separate interviews with DAILY INDEPENDENT, spoke passionately on how the intervention changed their stories positively, and also commended Oluranti Sagoe-Oviebo, the State Project Coordinator and her team.
Olaoluwa Falade, a member of God’s Own Community Poultry with 11 members, who has been in the business for three years with about 10,000 birds, stated that Lagos APPEALS project through its massive support has contributed about 95 to 98 per cent of his success story.
“We are one of the beneficiaries of the APPEALS Project. It has helped us to move up. It has assisted the group with 7,700 broilers, 1,925 nipple drinkers; which reduced stress of feeding the birds with water in the open trough, 11 pieces of 500 litres water tanks, 11 pieces of 1,500 litres water tanks, 1,078 bags of pelleted Broiler starter feed, 539 bags of pelleted finisher feed, scaffolding works and medications.
“We don’t have problems selling our birds. We have off-takers who come here with trailers to take the birds when they are ready.
“We have off-takers and prepared markets for our birds. We are making good sales. We are very happy and grateful to the Lagos APPEALS project. We are indebted to them because the value of what they have given to us is in millions,”
Having benefited immensely from the project, Falade implored youths to embrace agriculture.
“I can tell you that if you are not a farmer, you are nobody. Instead of roaming around with files, start agriculture to empower yourself and stop street begging,” he advised.
Sharing her experience in the rice production chain, Oluwatoyin Oluwole, producer of Arike Ofada Rice, said based on the support from Lagos APPEALS project in terms of equipment and other efforts, Arike Ofada Rice is now available in supermarkets and online platforms.
“I started ofada rice business seven years ago and when I started, I imported the necessary machines and tools for the business. But the production was very slow as I only process a ton of rice for three weeks. But with the intervention of Lagos APPEALS project, I now process a ton of rice within three days.
“APPEALS project has really supported my business. It supported me with Colour Sorter Machine and dryers. The equipment had taken away stress during processing. Before now when we were using manual sorting, it took a lot of days to sort one ton of rice, but now with the equipment provided by Lagos APPEALS project, we sort out one ton of rice in one or two days.
“The intervention of the Project has helped my business. It has made production easier. Initially, we were not able to enter the high-end market, but with the colour sorter from Lagos APPEALS, Arike Ofada Rice is now in supermarkets and other markets. People now order our rice through online platforms.
Also in the aquaculture value chain, Olofin Zaynab, who has been in the fishing business for about five years, appreciated the Project stating that through the intervention, she now rears Tilapia.
“We were trained on the Tilapia production technology and we then submitted a business plan through which we were empowered to raise Tilapia. We don’t have problems getting our fish to the market because Lagos APPEALS project has linked us up with off-takers at the inception during the technology adoption. So, what we have in place is a business alliance with off-takers and the local market is equally available to off-take,” she said.
The story is the same for Ademola Subair, a member of the Isokan Cooperative Agricultural Multipurpose at Agbowa-Ikosi in Ikosi-Ejirin Local Council Development Council (LCDA), who has been in fishing business for six years. He said that Lagos APPEALS has brought succour and relief to his CIG, which is made up of seven male and three female.
According to him, “Lagos APPEALS assisted us with cage culture, which has helped us in raising fishes to marketable sizes. We embraced the cage culture system and it has been encouraging to us. This is more economical than fish pond because you don’t need to change the water.
“They grow faster because they feed from natural feeds. Lagos APPEALS introduced all male Tilapia to us and the market is encouraging. The male Tilapia grows faster than when you have mixed sexes,” he said.
Rahmon Lasisi is another farmer who has been in the fishing business for 10 years, but started the cage culture two years ago through the support of Lagos APPEALS project.
He said he embraced the cage culture because it had many advantages.
“It saved cost and because the fish dwell in natural water, there is no need for changing water. The cage culture also reduces cost of feeding because the fish feed on natural feeds. Each cage can store 1,500 to 2,000 fishes. We focus on Tilapia alone because there is a ready-made market for it,” he said.
Those selling fish at Ebute- Afuye and the popular Ebute- Chief also shared their experiences.
Toyin Olorunwa, is one of them who says she usually buys large quantities of fish from Lasisi’s farm on a daily basis and she usually makes an average of N5,000 to N20,000 daily.
“I buy and sell Tilapia and Catfish every day. I have been buying fish in large quantities from this farm in the last two years. I usually buy 40 to 80 kilograms of fish every day. People buy the fish regularly in the market. In fact, they always rush the Tilapia fish. I sell Tilapia faster in the market and I make a lot of gain.
Kemi Adebayo, another fish seller noted that Tilapia sells faster than other fishes in the market.
“I have been selling fish for the past 10 years but I started buying fish from Lasisi’s farm about three years ago. I usually buy catfish and started buying Tilapia recently.
“However, Tilapia fish move very fast in the market and it is profitable. If I buy fish worth N20,000, I gain about N8,000 to N10,000 and if I buy fish worth N30,000, I gain about N15,000,” she said.
Fish processing was not also left out, as processors also shared their experiences.
Alhaja Nurat Omotayo-Atoba, who owns a fish grilling and barbeque kiosk in the Agege area of the State said the business is profitable.
“I have been a fish farmer for 16 years. I was trained by Lagos APPEALS on how to make fish barbeque and other things and was supported with a solar-powered kiosk in December 2020 to start fish barbeque. The business is profitable.
“It has helped us in off-taking some of the products of the farmers. We usually take fish from fish farmers and chicken from poultry farmers. Fish grilling and barbeque is an elitist taste. So, it has been embraced by the youths and since we started, they have been coming. They enjoyed it. I have many staff, who work morning and night shifts,” she said.