Abimbola Akosile

In continuation of its policy of investing in communities to positively impact the lives of smallholder farmers across Nigeria, British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation (BATNF) recently rehabilitated the Cassava Processing Cottage at Ago-Are, in Atisbo Local Government Area of Oyo State.

The Executive Director, BATNF, Mrs. Oluwaseyi Ashade, said “The rehabilitated cassava processing cottage industry was initially commissioned and handed over to the community on December 3, 2004. Due to expansion of agricultural activities, especially the cassava value-chain enterprise, a request for facility expansion, to increase cassava processing into various derivatives, was made by the Ago Are agrarian community in 2015 which the Foundation honoured.

“Our work in supporting smallholder farmers in rural communities in Nigeria is our answer to the challenge of poverty and our approach to transforming the society to self-sufficient people who can feed themselves, earn an income from their farms through processing and feed the larger population. So far, the Foundation has established community development projects in all 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, some of which have resulted in wealth creation and food security.”
According to Ashade, the rehabilitation of Ago-Are Cassava Processing Cottage signposts the foundation’s commitment to supporting efforts targeted at alleviating poverty among smallholder farmers.

Urging the smallholder farmers to take advantage of the initiative to enhance their livelihood, Ashade added: “With the handing over of these facilities, it is our belief that the beneficiaries and the community at large will put the equipment into proper use in order to increase their productivity and income, thereby making life more meaningful to them, their household and the social-economic life of the community.”

The Aare of Ago-Are, HRH Oba Abodunrin Oyetunji Kofoworola Olakanla II, while unveiling the Cassava Processing Cottage, said: “Because agriculture is very key, it therefore becomes necessary to support and encourage smallholder farmers through periodic incentives that would enable them earn a better living.

“In this regard, the exemplary role of BATNF in alleviating poverty among smallholder farmers is noteworthy and what we have witnessed today is not surprising as the Foundation is reputed for its wealth creation agenda among smallholder farmers.”
While acknowledging the Foundation’s giant strides in agricultural development in Ago-Are, the monarch urged BATNF to also extend its interventionist schemes to the area of provision of potable water so as to enhance the livelihoods of all members of the community.

Director of Rural Community Development in Oyo State Ministry of Agriculture, Pastor Yode Ayanlowo, who represented the State Governor, said BATNF’s impressive agricultural interventions and development agenda have given Oyo State indigenes a renewed sense of hope.
He reiterated the government’s willingness to continue to partner the Foundation in its transformation drive by engendering an enabling environment.
Since its inception in 2002, BATNF has implemented over 157 community development projects across the 36 states and the FCT in Nigeria.