The Enugu State Government has described the World Bank assisted Agro-Processing, Productivity, Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support, APPEALS, Project as an important vehicle towards the realization of its 8-point agenda in the State.
Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo, made this remark as the APPEALS project commenced stock taking, preparatory to its midterm assessment.
She spoke at a pre-sixth implementation support mission and Team A zonal wrap up in Enugu.
Declaring the seminar open, 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.
She 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.
Also speaking, the Project’s National coordinator, Mr. Mohammed Sani Jobdi said that the midterm assessment became necessary, having gone three years into the project.
Jobdi also disclosed that the project devotes 30 percent of its resources to Women and Youths, adding that the value addition to produce forms its core priority.
Jobdi said: “The project took off in 2017 and the essence of the Enugu meeting is because we are fast approaching our midterm review and in every project life circle, midway, which is midterm, it’s expected that we review the implementation progress of the project to know how far the project has fared in terms of implementation of the different components; take stocks to know how far we have been able to achieve, are we really on track, what lessons have we learnt in the past three years and what are some of the things that we need to improve upon to see how we can achieve our set development objectives.
“A key element of the APPEALS project is the women and youth empowerment programme because we are also conscious of the fact that women and youth 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 percent is set aside for the women and youth sub-component of the project.
“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 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 harvest to post harvest handling, processing, storage and marketing.
“Over the last three years, we’ve been able to clear 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 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 goes just beyond supporting farmers with inputs 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.”