Ben Ezechime, Enugu
Some 1,700 farmers in Enugu State have benefited from N3.4 billion grants from the World Bank’s Agro-Processing, Productivity, Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) projects.
This was made known during the flag off of the implementation of “Women and Youths Empowerment Programme (WYEP)” by Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in Enugu.
The APPEALS project is solely funded by the World Bank to improve livelihood of women and youths and it is supported by the Enugu State Government.
Each of the beneficiaries was given a grant inputs of N2m totaling N3.4bn.
Gov. Ugwuanyi represented by his Deputy, Mrs Cecilia Ezeilo, said the aim was to enhance the agricultural productivity of small- and medium-scale farmers and improve value chain.
He added that Enugu State was among the six states of Cross River, Kaduna, Kano, Kogi and Lagos benefiting from the project in the country, and the only one from the South-East geopolitical zone.
Ugwuanyi said the project was among the World Bank programmes to enhance the productivity of small and medium-scale farmers along the priority agricultural value chains of poultry, rice, cashew, fish farming and cassava.
“Its implementation began in November 2019 with the plans to support the National sub-national policy on food security, local materials production, export promotion, job creation, and diversification of the economy.
“This is with the three thematic areas of productivity enhancement, growing private investment, and institutional realignment,” Ugwuanyi said.
The governor further said the project was directly contributing to the state government’s four-point agenda on food security, rural development, job creation and good governance.
“I’m glad to report that over 6,850 of our farmers have so far received grants and improved support, while more than 40,000 farmers have been fully sensitised across the various local government areas of the state on modern agricultural and agro-allied processing technology.
Speaking, the Acting Project Coordinator of APPEALS, Enugu, Mrs Ihuoma Eze, noted that the programme began in August 2019 with the call for Expression of Interest as advertised in the national dailies for eligible farmers of Enugu State.
The exercise, she said, was floated both offline and online and had a total submission of 29,707 valid applications recorded.
“This process was then followed by a rigorous, competitive and transparent selection process which trimmed down the total submissions to the Project targeted number of 1,700 Women, Youth and Persons with Disability resident across the 17 Local Government Areas of the State.
“Out of 1,700 selected number of beneficiaries, 55.8% are Women and girls while 5% are Persons with Disability and Special Needs,” she said.
The coordinator added that the beneficiaries were subjected to intensive trainings on their chosen value chains of Poultry, Rice, Cashew and Cassava and along the segments of Production. Processing and Marketing.
“It is interesting to note that an individual enterprise assessed an approximate of amount of N2 million each while group enterprises comprising of 2-5 individuals per group assessed between N4 to 10 million.”
Also speaking, Task Team Leader, World Bank, Dr Manievel Sene, said the APPEALS project addresses three key objectives that enhance people’s lives.
“One is to improve the productivity of our priority value chain as states have many value chains that they have selected.
“We also make sure we eliminate post harvest losses as the project is about supporting and processing,” he said.
Sene, represented by the Co-Task Team Leader and Senior Agricultural Specialist, Dr Chidozie Anyiro, said they used different model as beneficiaries were trained before given the grants.
Advising the beneficiaries earlier, the state Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mr Matthew Iduh, said they should take the empowerment scheme seriously by multiplying what was given to them.