The World Bank says its Commercial Agriculture Development Project (CADP) has upgraded the skills of the country’s farmers in agribusiness.
The World Bank Task Team Leader, Dr Sheu Salau, said this in Kaduna on Friday, while addressing stakeholders at 14th and final implementation support mission of CADP.
It was reported that the World Bank in 2010 introduced the pilot stage of CADP and funded it with 150 million U.S. dollars.
Kaduna, Kano, Enugu, Osun and Lagos states participated in the pilot programme which involved skills acquisition, agribusiness development plans as well as technology-based farming methods, among others.
Salau said that the pilot programme, which was successful, entailed the production of selected crops and livestock in the five states.
He said that dairy products, maize and fruit processing activities in Kaduna State were successful, adding that the programme had also empowered thousands of women and youths with agribusiness skills.
He also said that the programme had tackled the menace of Aflatoxin (a toxin produced by certain fungi found on crops like maize and peanuts), adding that the intervention had boosted the confidence of companies like Nestlé to buy maize directly from farmers for baby foods production.
Salau said that Kaduna State Government had already established three Maize Aggregation Centres that served as one-stop market for high-grade, germ-free maize, while improving the income of maize farmers.
The World Bank team leader said that under the programme, a poultry hatchery had been established in Enugu State, adding that poultry farmers could now buy day-old chicks there.
“Fish farmers in Lagos State have begun exporting dry fish to the U.S. because of the quality of our fishery projects.
“We also have rice and dairy processing projects in Kano State and the state’s farmers can now access loan facilities from Stanbic Bank without difficulties,’’ he said.
Salau, however, said with all the feats recorded under the programme, it was somewhat expedient to take stock to appraise the successes and failures, with a view to making amendments where there were lapses.
“We, at the World Bank, want to take stock of your challenges and results; we want to know the achievements and limitations of the beneficiary states.
“For us at the World Bank, we value successes and failures for if you don’t talk about failures, you may repeat the mistakes again.
“So, it is important for us to come together and be open while talking of challenges, we should then devise means of going forward. This is one unique thing about this project.
“We also know that the farmers lack knowledge of technology and through the project, farmers are able to access finance for their production. There is horizontal and vertical coordination among farmers,’’ he said.
Also speaking, National Project Coordinator, Dr. Amin Babadi, said that the project had positively touched the lives of small-scale farmers, while exposing them to a number of opportunities in agricultural development.
He, however, urged the task team of the project to document all the relevant issues, as part of efforts to make their field visit productive.
Earlier, Prof. Kabiru Mato, Kaduna State Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry, said that the project had facilitated the access of small and medium scale farmers to new technology, adding that this had boosted diary, fruits and maize production in the state.
He said that under the programme, access roads were constructed, while a women and youth empowerment programme was initiated.
He also listed the establishment of the maize aggregation centres and the provision of technical support for farmers as some of feats of the programme.
“It is hoped that more benefits will accrue to us, especially in the area of women and youth empowerment, as this is the main focus of the present administration,’’ Mato said.