Mrs Oluranti Oviebo, the State Project Coordinator of Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Support (APPEALS), a World Bank assisted project in Lagos State, says she is optimistic that applicants who are able to access input grants under the project will do well in agronomy.
APPEALS is screening women and youths seeking to take advantage of a World Bank assisted N200 million project to create jobs and increase economic growth.
The exercise, which began on Monday in Lagos, will end on Thursday, with a minimum of 450 applicants being screened daily.
Lagos State and the Federal Government are working with the World Bank to support youths and women for employment and income generation using agriculture.
The partnership, also aimed at improving livelihood and productivity of farmers, will also enhance processing and marketing of the three targeted value chains of rice, poultry and aquaculture in the state.
Oviebo said in Ikeja that so far, the applicants had conducted themselves in an orderly manner and showed commitment to succeed in the field of agronomy.
She revealed that after the screening, 1,700 applicants would be selected for the next stage, which was capacity building.
“After the screening, the successful applicants will embark on a five-week long training in their chosen value chain which are rice, poultry and aquaculture.
“Then, they will come up with their business plan in the production, processing or marketing section, which will then be scrutinized before they will be given the agricultural inputs in their chosen field.
“Let me inform that no money will be disbursed, but innovative and modern agricultural inputs, all to ease the process,” she said.
Dr Salisu Garba, Project Operations Manager of APPEALS, said that he had always been impressed with the activities of Lagos State.
He said that during the Commercial Agriculture Development Project (CADP) Lagos State was always on top, just as it does in the APPEALS project.
Garba said from what he saw on ground, the personnel were capable of handling the process, and encouraged the applicants and future beneficiaries to take whatever they gained seriously.
Mrs Esther Ajewole, an applicant for the poultry marketing chain, said she was elated when she got the invitation to come for screening.
She said: “I saw the advert on one national newspaper and decided to apply, I was not expecting anything but I got a text message afterwards and I screamed because I never believed it was real.”
Mr Aberejo Usman, who just finished his National Youth Service said he was ready to impact the country’s economy as well as his community through the empowerment he would receive.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Prince Gbolahan Lawal, had urged youths to take advantage of the World Bank assisted project to create jobs and increase economic growth.
“Agriculture has evolved into a highly diversified sector with several operations.
‘’Lagos intends to support youth agro entrepreneurship by training them to undertake projects that yield improvements and higher productivity driven by technological innovation that will result in higher output, using APPEALS and other programmes.
“Out of the almost 10,000 applications, 2000 people were shortlisted.
“After this screening, the beneficiaries will be supported with materials to contribute to the restoration of agricultural livelihoods in the state, boost employment and income generation,” he said.
Lawal expressed hope that the transfer of skills would have impact in the lives of the beneficiaries.
The World Bank is partnering with six states – Kano, Kaduna, Lagos, Cross River, Kogi and Enugu in the APPEALS project to improve productivity of Small and Medium Scale farmers. (NAN)