By Dennis Agbo
The National Coordinator of Agro-Processing, Productivity, Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support, APPEALS, Project, Mr Mohammed Sani Jobdi has disclosed that the World Bank assisted project places emphasis of adding value chain to agricultural products because it expects the project’s beneficiaries to stand on their own at the closure of the project in 2023.
Jobdi said that it was not just enough to give inputs to farmers and overlook the processing, storage and marketing aspects of the products, since it’s the value of the product that will enhance the farmers’ well-being and continuous production.
According to him, Women and youths occupy no less than so per cent of its support since most farmers were either the youths or women that deserve greater attention and assistance.
Jobdi made the disclosures, yesterday, during the Pre-sixth implementation support mission and Team A zonal wrap up in Enugu.
He said: “Since the project started in 2017 and we’ve been able to achieve to some extent a greater success in the sense that the project is being moulded to create a business environment whereby agriculture will be as a business and not just as a subsistence activity.
We try to emphasize value addition because we are conscious of the fact that apart from production, why most of our products are not selling very well or farmers are not getting a higher premium for their produce is as a result of the issue of poor value additions. So APPEALS being conscious of that, we try to improve on value addition right from the aspect of the harvest to post-harvest handling, processing, storage and marketing.
“Over the last three years, we’ve been able to clarify what we call Value Chain Investment Plans, VCIP, because we prepare our beneficiaries in such a way that they can prepare what we call investment plans that will be bankable even after this project because we are thinking and looking beyond APPEALS project after the closure of the project so that our beneficiaries at any point in time will be able to be on a sustainable basis to be in their business.
“So with this idea of business plans, they come up with instant business investment plans that are bankable. They can even source money apart from the World Bank because the World Bank is only supporting them. Going forward we are trying to create that consciousness that it goes just beyond supporting farmers with imputes the traditional way, but if they can come up with investment plans, they should be able to be on their own on a sustainable basis.
“Apart from this, another key element is the women and Youths empowerment programme because we are also conscious of the fact that women and youths constitute a larger percentage of the population and you must agree that if you look at most of the farming activities, women contribute greatly and so we emphasis assistance to them and the youths. Based on our record, 30 per cent is set aside for the women and youth sub-component of the project.”
Declaring the seminar open, Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Mrs Cecilia Ezeilo said that the state government was committed to ensuring food security through enhancement of agricultural productivity as a principal aspect of the state’s eight-point development agenda.
Ezeilo emphasized that the Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi administration has agriculture, food production and employment as part of its eight-point development agenda which made it consider the APPEALS project as a major vehicle for the realization of the lofty idea and came earliest among the participating states to launch the project.