The Lagos State Commercial Agriculture Development Project (CADP) is helping to achieve the World Bank’s twin goals of ending poverty and boosting prosperity by creating new agric entrepreneurs. DANIEL ESSIET reports.
Nurudeen Adekunle, a Physiology Graduate, has been searching for jobs without any success until he saw the advert of the Lagos State Commercial Agriculture Development Project (CADP) announcing opportunities in agri-business for graduates.
The World Bank-Assisted-CADP is aimed at strengthening agricultural production systems and facilitating access to market for participating small and medium scale commercial farmers. It supports the commercialisation of agriculture production, processing and marketing output among small and media-scale commercial farmers and agro-processors.
Adekunle applied and got the job. He was trained on poultry business.
At the end of the training, he was given a starter pack which include cage (for the birds), feeds, generating set, crates to pick the eggs, shovels, and wheel barrows.
Today, his farm is a small scale success story. Adekunle said the poultry business has transformed his life. He makes a lot of money from selling eggs and mature birds. He supplies chicken to individuals, supermarkets and hotels. Not only has he been able to find a sustainable means of livelihood, he has now money to take care of his parents.
According to him, “the CADP initiative is very commendable which focus is to create employment and encourage participation in agriculture. I must commend the Lagos State government and the World Bank for this”.
Another beneficiary is Miss Ronke Parker, a science graduate. She knew about the project from a newspaper. She picked the form, filled it and was selected. He received training in fish farming.
She had one month training at the Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR), Victoria Island, Lagos. She was awarded a certificate on completion of the training. Thereafter, she registered a company.
The initial cost was N2.5 million. But amount was not given to her in cash. Instead, she received equipment.
According to her, CADP provided her all the equipment, fish input and quality fish feed.
She also got automatic fish grader (sorting machine). Several service providers came to her, providing everything she needed for the business. Today, she has set up a fish farming business.
Miss Parker said CADP trained her on agric business.
One difference the programme has made among fish farmers is ending the era of traditional method of fish-smoking that sees women spending many hours tending to fish laid out on mesh over smoking coals. That is changing with the introduction of smoking kilns. The technology also helped Miss Parker to save time.
Before farmers spend about two days drying and smoking the fish. Now, it takes about seven hours to finish it. With CADP, her dreams are becoming a reality. She expressed gratitude to the state government and those handling the project.
Najeem Olalekan Gbadamosi is elated at the opportunity given to him by the government. A technical school product where he studied Electrical/Electronics Engineering, he is into Aquaculture value chain under the scheme.
“I got information about the project from a newspaper and a Television programme on LTV (Lagos Television). I got the form, filled it and I was selected. I had one month training at the Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR), Victoria Island, Lagos. I was awarded a certificate on completion of the training. Thereafter, I registered a company- Starworld Integrated Farm Nigeria Enterprises- with the CAC and opened accounts (current and savings) with Fidelity Bank. Over 50 service providers came to me; they provided everything I needed for the business according to my proposal.” Gbadamosi said.
The indigene of Lagos from Agege said he has completed first phase of his business and ploughed back the profit into the second phase. (State Commercial Agriculture Development Project)
“The total initial cost outlay was N2.35million. But it was not given to me in cash. It was given to me in the form of input into the business. All the things I needed, they provided, which covered the running cost. For instance, at inception, I was provided with borehole, generating sets, petrol, fish, feeds, etc. I started with 1,500 fish today it is about 10,000,” he said.
According to him, “the important thing is that I enjoy what am doing. Naturally, I like agriculture. It was my father that insisted I should study Electrical Engineering because of his own background. I do not regret it though, because I am using the experience in my farm. I do all the electrical and technical work by myself; so, it is good for me.”
So far, most of his clients are home owners. He believes he is on the right track and does not waiver in his determination to succeed. While fish farming remains a largely untapped market with a few incentives, he has decided to be a trendsetter and beat his own path in the industry.
He was excited about the project, adding that they were well- equipped and capable of achieving great milestones while scaling their impact.
Mrs. Funmi Ayoola , a Marketing graduate of The Polytechnic, Ibadan, based in Opesa, Iyana Ipaya, is one fish farmer whose story inspires. She, like her peers, had looked forward to secure a white collar job. She left with no regular source of income for some years.
Mrs. Ayoola, a middle age woman , started fish farming business after she learned about the Commercial Agric Development Project’s call for expression of interest from an announcement on Radio Lagos. She applied and was selected for aquaculture. She was shot listed for training. After the training, Mrs. Ayoola was supported with seed grants that helped her set up a farm.
She was set up with two collapsible tanks. Other items put in place for a successful and smooth running of the fish production by CADP at her farm include borehole system, generator set, feeds among others.
“I have benefited greatly from CADP. We got collapsible tanks which reduce stress of mobility. “If I decide to change location today, my business would still continue because all I have to do is find a way of moving my fish and my collapsible fish pond. The collapsible fish pond is an improved fish rearing pond system. (State Commercial Agriculture Development Project)
‘‘I’m not even thinking about job search again. Mrs. Ayoola said that the entire exercise was transparent and very professionally done,’’ she said.
She is earning something from the business. This has not only made her feel self-assured, but also more accepted by her community.
With a secure source of income, she now knows that she can feed her family, send her children to school, and sustain her livelihood. She feels empowered.
For Olamielekan Otun, a beneficiary of poultry, life could not have been better. An agriculture graduate of University of Maidugari, Borno State, Lekan, Chief Executive, Freash Eggs Farms, a poultry processor,based in Alapado, Lagos learned about the in the newspapers. He picked the form at CADP office in Oko Oba, Agege. After completing the form with necessary documents attached, he was shot listed and sent among other lucky individuals for a training at Epe.
“My experience since then has been a wonderful one. “It has not only been a rewarding experience, I am continuously learning every day,” he said. From the proceeds of the business, he is able to feed his family and am hoping that the future will be brighter as he get more customers to buy his processed children.
The CADP has changed the story of people such as Lekan. It is the first of such that will empower qualified individuals with seed grants, giving agriculture entrepreneurs 100 percent of what they require to start their agro ventures. Although the project is aimed at helping participating small and medium scale commercial farmers to access improved technology, infrastructure, finance and output markets, the women and youth empowerment segment of post restructuring has proved to be a huge success.
Apart from the poultry business, he also keeps pigs. According to him, the pigs take a short time to mature while they also breed rapidly.
He advised the youth not to shun farming as demand for food is always rising, which means ready market. He appealed to the government to continue with the project to support youth entrepreneurship. This is the story among all the CADP Women and Youth Empowerment Programme beneficiaries. (State Commercial Agriculture Development Project)
The seed grant has helped in setting them on the path of success as many of them are now smiling to the banks with proceeds from the CADP investment in their lives.
CADP Project Coordinator Mr. Gbenga Ogunyinka said 45 aquaculture production beneficiaries received input support ranging from collapsible tanks, boreholes, scaffolds and tanks, juvenile fishes, weighing scales, feeds and generators, among others.
He said 33 aquaculture processing beneficiaries were supported with smoking kilns, table size fish, packing materials, shed, charcoal, sealing machines and freezers.
Apart from introducing fish farmers to new techniques supported by the World Bank, Ogunyinka said some of them have forayed into the international market.
According to him, branded smoked fish produced by fish farmers in the state are sold abroad.
In Lagos, according to findings, the project supported the rehabilitation of 16 farm access roads of 34.9 kilometres across the state, among other achievements.