December 11, (THEWILL) – Rice farmers in Cross River State, under the Agro Processing Productivity Enhancement And Livelihoods Support (APPEALS) project, are counting their gains and improved yield.
The farmers and other value chain providers said their productivity has been massively boosted by the training and exposure given to them by the ongoing APPEALS project in the state.
The APPEALS project is a six-year project developed by Nigeria’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in collaboration with the World Bank.
It aims to support the policy thrust on food security, export promotion and livelihood improvement.
Appraising the project so far, Chairman of the Idomi Cluster Rice Value Chain, Mr. Eni Ugobo, said the intervention is worthwhile and is impacting their productivity.
In his words: “rice production, before APPEALS intervention, was cumbersome and output was low because we (farmers) engaged manual labourers, which were costly, it was a very big problem.
“When the APPEALS project came, we started using the machines we got and the work is now done faster. What we used to accomplish in three days, we get done in just a day. Our rice is better packaged because we are able to destone. As I speak to you, we have patronage from all over the state and outside.
“Also, there is no more waste. Before now, the way we parboiled rice resulted in huge wastage.
“With the intervention, the technique used eliminates waste and the paddy waste that is the bran, which was thrown away prior to APPEALS intervention, is now being used as ‘firewood’ for cooking.
“We also mill for other farmers from other villages at a fee and have enrolled our children in schools. Life is generally better now,” Ugobo stressed.
Also speaking, the cluster Chairman of Ekureku-Anon One Cluster in Abi Local Government Area, Mr. Samuel Elemi, attested to the benefit accrued to the farmers.
“We used to harvest 37 bags per hectare; now we harvest nearly 50 bags. Overall, the interest we share is much better now.
“It was not like before when we were collecting loans to repay at high-interest rates. But, I can tell you confidently that we are upgrading,” he said.
They appealed to the Nigerian Government and the World Bank, to provide additional support to enhance expansion, especially for those beneficiaries that were serious about the programme.
Also speaking, Gloria Ogban, the rice value chain facilitator in the Cross River APPEALS project, affirmed that the essence of the intervention was to enhance the productivity of small and medium-scale farmers and improve value addition.
Besides Cross River, five other states including Enugu, Kaduna, Kano, Kogi and Lagos, are the benefitting states in this phase of the project.
About 9,000 beneficiaries including women and youths have received the intervention in rice, cocoa and poultry value chains thus far.