Sixty thousand farmers will benefit from 200 million US dollars in six years under the World Bank-assisted projects in Nigeria called the Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support, APPEALS.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that this was announced on Monday at the second Implementation Support Mission of the bank, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, held in Lagos.
Amin Babandi, the National Project Coordinator, APPEALS, said that 10,000 smallholder farmers would be drawn from Cross River, Enugu, Kaduna, Kano, Kogi and Lagos States.
Represented by Salisu Garba, National Operations Officer, APPEALS, Mr Babandi said that the project would address five components.
“The project started in May. The implementation support mission is to address before hand, the bottlenecks that could be encountered in the course of the project.
“We are sensitising project officers on what they need to do. This is the first stage of bringing all of them in one place to start by knowing what the project is about.
“The six-year project is in five components which include: production and Productivity Enhancement; Primary Processing Value Addition, Post-Harvest Management and Women and Youth Empowerment.
“Infrastructure Support to Agribusiness Clusters; Technical Assistance, Knowledge and Communication and Project Management and Coordination,’’ Mr Babandi said.
According to him, the second component will gulp 92 million dollars from which the women and youths empowerment will also take 72 million dollars.
He also said that there was the possibility of increasing the said amount because there were plans to add three other states in the course of the project.
Shehu Salau, the Task Team Leader of APPEALS, said that the project was initiated to increase productivity and improve value addition across the agricultural value chains.
Mr Salau said that Nigerian farmers produced enough but not much was done in the area of value addition hence, the need to change the narrative.
“APPEALS is an attempt by the Federal Government to change the narrative around the productivity of our small holder farmers, to increase their productivity and to improve the level of value addition.
“Our performance in some value chain addition like cassava is poor. Nigeria is the highest producer of cassava globally but when you look at value added product exported from cassava, it is less than one per cent.
“While Thailand that produces 72,000 metric tons exports about 75 per cent or more of their value added cassava product. So, the objective of this project is to change that narrative and help to improve value addition for small and medium scale farmers.
“We have done a number of things to ensure that we have an effective implementation of the project, one of which is to ensure that we engage competent project staff that have prerequisite capacity to be able to deliver the project.
“We are very engaged with the government and the authorizing environment in terms of monitoring of the project,’’ he said.
According to Mr Salau, the project will develop a robust monitoring and evaluation mechanism, including an accountability framework.
He said the project would work with Ministries of Agriculture, farmers associations and community-based organisations to select the 60,000 beneficiaries.
Mr Hassan Ibrahim, the Kano State Project Coordinator, said that APPEALS was a good development, adding that it was a team oriented project.
Ibrahim said that project would improve the livelihoods of farmers at the grassroots level, “considering the agricultural potential of the state with over 70 per cent of the 13 million people in Kano State being farmers.
“Then, with the comparative advantage of effective and efficient irrigative infrastructure arable lands, I think the project is in the right place.
“We are ready to go into massive sensitization of farmers in collaboration with other World Bank Projects in the state.
“ The project in Kano is projecting three crops: rice, tomato and wheat, so farmers under the value chain will be involved, ‘’ he said.
Sani Abdulahi, the Project Coordinator of Kogi State, said that the state was newly added, but the farming activities embarked upon in the state brought about its addition.
Mr Abdulahi said: “We are new in the project but our activities in the past brought about our inclusion in the project. We have been doing a lot in cassava, rice and cashew.
“In line with the Federal Government’s agricultural policy, the Green Alternative and the state’s commitment to agriculture, we are not envisaging any bottlenecks,” he said.