FG Trains Staff in $200m World Bank Assisted Agricultural Project

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The federal government has started a $200 million World Bank assisted project facilitation training for its staff under the Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project (APPEALS).

The Acting Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Dr Amin Babandi, made this known at the opening ceremony of the week-long training in Lagos on Monday.

Babandi, who was represented by the APPEALS Project Operations Manager, Dr Salisu Garba, said the training was part of the implementation process of the project.

He said that the training was meant to equip members of staff that would assist in seeing through the implementation of the project.

According to him, while implementation of the project has commenced in six states at different levels, the training is to further equip staff of the project to ensure efficiency.

He said that 60,000 beneficiaries were being targeted in the six states with each of the states having 10,000 beneficiaries with emphasis on women and youths.

“We have many interventions that will consume about $72 million of the project to empower women and youths in the agric business.

“About 60,000 people are expected to be direct beneficiaries of the project across the six states, meaning 10,000 per state but you know for every one direct beneficiary, there are other indirect beneficiaries.

“The project is looking at 11 value chains including maize, wheat, cocoa, poultry, aquaculture and horticulture. Each state is concentrating on three value chains that they have comparative advantage on.

“Women and youths are free to pick from any of the value chains even if they do not have it as a key value chain in that state,” he said.

Babandi said that the six participating states had signed subsidiary loan agreements, while the project staff meant to implement the project had been selected based on a transparent process of recruitment.

According to him, “We have started implementing the project at different levels because some states started before others.

“The capacity of the staff is now being built on how to study the documents to know how to implement the project. They have undergone some training before now, this will further build their capacity.

“They have done all the necessary advocates at the state level, sensitising all the beneficiaries of the project to know what APPEALS is all about so that they can key in.

“This project is being put in place to build on what the World Bank commercial agric did in seven years, between 2009 and 2016.”

The project operations manager noted that besides sensitisation, demonstration of new technologies required for the project had been introduced.

He said the technologies are meant to improve productivity and add value to beneficiaries’ produce.

The training is focused on different areas including appraisal of document and project implementation manual, effective communication, team building and procedure for preparing value chain investment plan.

Others are agricultural food regulatory agencies and export procedures, financial management and disbursement, monitoring and evaluation.

Meanwhile, participants are expected to be conversant with essentials of productivity enhancement in the selected value chains, design and implementation issues of Women and Youth Empowerment Programme and infrastructure support to the clusters, among others.

The APPEALS project being implemented through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in six participating states of Cross River, Enugu, Kaduna, Kano, Kogi and Lagos, is a six-year project expected to run between 2017 and 2023.

The project is in line with the Agricultural Promotion Policy (The Green Alternative) of the federal government.

It is aimed at building on the legacy of the federal government’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) and plans to support policy thrust on food security, local production, job creation and economic diversification. (NAN)