Boosting the economy through agric dev’t projects




APPEALS, a $200 million project, is targeted at nurturing small-scale farming in six pilot states including Kaduna. ABDULRAHEEM AODU takes a look at what the project portends for the economy in areas of food production and jobs creation.

Nigeria, no doubt, has a lot of mouths to feed. With a population approaching 200 million, the country needs to work hard to produce enough food to feed its people without recourse to spending billions of foreign exchange on importation of food which could have negative effects on the economy.

To adequately feed its populace, while at the same time counter malnutrition and other such malaise, Nigeria needs to produce large quantities of meat, chicken, fish, dairy and other animal proteins to ensure that balanced diet is accessible and affordable to the people.

In that wise, investment of time, energy and good amount of money on agriculture is vital if Nigerians are to eat local instead of imported foods. This can yield multiple effects as the success of a well-articulated agriculture programme transcends food production; it has a huge potential for jobs creation, just as it also serves as veritable source of raw materials for the revival of various moribund and declining industries across the country.

The majority of farmers and animal keepers are on subsistence, small to medium-scale basis who work very hard using primitive tools, mainly hoes and cutlasses on small piece of lands, working against all odds with other factors at premium to break even.

This is where APPEALS comes in. It is aimed at enhancing the agricultural productivity of small and medium scale farmers and improve value addition along priority value chains of the various states involved in the project.

What is APPEALS?

Agro Processing, Productivity Enhancement And Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) is a project developed by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) Abuja in collaboration with the World Bank to provide over $200 million in six states.

The project covers animal husbandry, dairy and key crops production in Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Cross River, Kogi and Enugu states, where the states have comparative advantage in ginger, maize, tomato, cassava, rice, cocoa, cashew, poultry, aquaculture and wheat production as well as value chains.

The project is in line with the Agricultural Promotion Policy/the Green Alternative that focuses on food security, local production, job creation and economic diversification.

The states were picked due to conditions such as good soil, favourable whether and other factors favourable to their corresponding crops. Maize, ginger and dairy production were chosen for Kaduna state.

Kaduna state farmers in the field of dairy production, ginger and maize farming and their value chains are in big business as APPEALS plan to boost their operation by helping them to overcome teething problems in order to enhance production, minimise cost while maximising profits at the same time.

World Bank intervention

The World Bank’s collaboration, according to investigation is aimed at supporting and improving farmers’ productivity and their linkages to markets, facilitating consolidation of agricultural products and cottage processing, facilitating farmers and small and medium businesses’ clustering and connection to infrastructure network and business services.

The project is expected to achieve increase in the productivity of agricultural produce of priority value chains of farmers supported by the project and increase in processed output of priority value chains by project beneficiaries.

According to the deputy governor of Kaduna state and chairperson of the State Steering Committee, Hajiya Hadiza Balarabe, “Kaduna state is glad to collaborate with the World Bank towards driving our goal to transform the economy of the state through development of agricultural sector from subsistence to commercially viable and market-oriented business and attract investment into the sector to create jobs and improve the standards of living of the people.

“Each of the value chains has high potentials for market- driven sustainable development in the state. APPEALS project is a needed impetus to improve agricultural production, ensure food security, job creation and economic development in beneficiary states and the country.”

Targets

The project targets hundreds of thousands of farmers and value chain stakeholders across the country with the state coordinator of the project, Dr Yahaya Aminu, stating that there would be 10,000 direct and 50,000 indirect beneficiaries in the state.

He told a stakeholders sensitisation workshop that, “At least, 35% (3,500) of direct beneficiaries would be women and at least 5-10% (500-1,000) would be People With Disabilities (PWD). The project has a component to benefit women and youth that would allow them to develop agribusinesses that are expected to create jobs and improve their livelihoods.”

Effects on agric devt and economy

The permanent secretary, Kaduna state Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr Abdulkadir Kasim, said that the state government is recording landmark achievements in its drive to promote agriculture.

“We are not relenting in our desire to engineer transition in agriculture from small scale subsistence activity to a market-oriented, commercially-viable business. This is why Kaduna state is one of the six states collaborating with the federal government and World Bank in the implementation of the project.”

Explaining the state’s choice of maize, ginger and dairy as its priority value chain, he said Kaduna has comparative advantage as the largest producer in the country. “Maize is selected to promote food security, ginger is for its export potential and dairy is to improve livelihood. These would support our drive to create jobs, improve standard of living and attract investment into our economy.

“Kaduna is an agrarian state with over 70% of the population engaging in crop and livestock production. It has a land area of 4.5 million hectares out of which two million is arable land.

“Nigeria is the 10th largest producer of maize in the world while Kaduna is leading in national maize production. Every part of the crop can be used as food, feed and fuel.

“We are also the largest producer of fresh ginger and investment in ginger production and processing can create over 5,000 jobs.

“Nigeria is the largest producer of cow milk in West Africa. Kaduna state has estimated number of two million cattle and about 800,000 milking cows, but produces just a little above 400,000 litres of milk per annum, mainly by pastoralists. The opportunity of investment is awesome,” the perm sec said.

APPEALS sets up Grievance Redress Committee

APPEALS has set up what it calls Grievances Redress Committee for the state to promptly address complains raised by farmers and other beneficiaries. The deputy governor, Hajiya Balarabe, urged the committee to ensure that it addresses issues and complains raised by farmers and other beneficiaries to enhance the project is in line with the World Bank tenets.

“The Grievance Redress Committee will provide farmers with opportunity to seek redress on challenges or issues facing them. We are incorporating a 9mobile toll-free hotline for people to call and lay their complains. The committee would provide a mechanism for quick intervention in resolving disputes that may affect the implementation of this programme.”

The 15-member GRC is headed by a former chief justice of the state, Justice Tanimu Zailani. Other members include APPEALS State Project Coordinator, Dr Yahaya Aminu, Dr Habiba Tukur, Mr Luka John, Barrister Mani Shuaibu, Henry Jonathan, Barrister Priscilla Ankut, Farida Abubakar and Aisha Idris, among others.

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