Nigeria’s Ministry of Agriculture has selected 1,700 women and youths for the World Bank assisted Agro-processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project tagged APPEALS.
The selection was made in Cross River State, southern Nigeria. APPEALS is a seven-year project developed by the Nigerian government in line with the Green Alternative Agriculture Promotion Policy, APP. It builds on the legacy of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda,ATA, to support the policy on food security, increased localproduction, job creation and economic diversification.
Dr. Salisu Garba, the Project Operations Manager, who led a team forthe interview process, which lasted seven days, screened 2,900applicants in collaboration with stakeholders from the Cross River.
Garba, who spoke in Calabar on the selection process, said “this selection process is for an intervention on women and youths’
empowerment under the APPEALS project. It was introduced to reduce the rate of unemployed youths and women through agro-business.
We followed due process by advertising this project and in response,the people applied. For the interview in Cross River, we selected 2,915 applicants. The project is piloted in six states and these include Cross River, Enugu, Kaduna, Kano, Kogi and Lagos. We are doing this exercise to select 10,000 beneficiaries nationwide”.
According to him, APPEALS covers eleven value chains and Cross River, the focus, is on rice, cocoa, poultry. Others are cashew and maize.
He said , however, women are free to select from any of the value chains.
Heather Akanni, the national women and youth livelihood specialists, explained that the one of the five component of the project is to ensure 50 percent of the beneficiaries for empowerment are women.
Akanni said “for women, we are looking at 50 percent beneficiary.This project is not restricted to indigenes, it is for residents inthe states and cuts across the eighteen local government areas.
We want to ensure that the women have greater advantage, educated or not. Also, age is not a requirement, whether they are above 40 years ,they will benefit. In fact, women are free to choose whatever they want either for food security, export or livelihood”.
Also speaking, Dr. Naomi Archibong, the State Coordinator, women and youths’ component, explained that the unit embarked on intensive community advocacy to draw out applicants from the eighteen local government areas.
Marcel Agim, the State Coordinator of APPEALS, said that the project was operating two components in the state, which are the cooperativeand women and youths.
He also said that more than 31,000 people have applied.