The Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, has charged beneficiaries of the World Bank APPEALS Project to access the grants and develop viable investment plans for them to become employers of labour.
Hamzat said this at the graduation ceremony of Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS Project) for Women and Youth Empowerment Programme(WYEP), Batch I, at Agricultural Training Institute, Araga, Epe, Lagos State.
Hamzat represented by Mr Adedoyin Adesanya, Chairman, Epe Local Government, said that APPEALS project was aimed at supporting farmers’ productivity.
He added that it was also their linkage to market with a vision to assisting 10,000 direct beneficiaries with anticipated 35 per cent women beneficiaries.
The beneficiaries were the first batch of the 1,620 shortlisted participants for the Small and Medium Scale Farmers and Improve value in addition to poultry, aquaculture and rice value chains in Lagos State.
The beneficiaries were trained in two locations, Lagos and Abeokuta, for three weeks.
Two hundred of them were trained in rice and poultry oroductions at the Agricultural Training Institute, Araga, Epe, while the remaining 150 were trained in aquaculture at the Aquatic Hub-Afrique Network, Abeokuta
The deputy governor said, “Being here today as a beneficiary of APPEALS project women and youth empowerment programme is a major feat after being selected out of the over 7,000 applicants for the available 1,700 slots.
“I wish to congratulate all the beneficiaries for your involvement in this laudable project which is aimed at supporting the unemployed and the under employed.
“I implore you all to access the grant element of the project by developing viable investment plans that will not just make you agro-prenuers but also make you employers of labour.”
He also commended the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture for achieving the feat.
“Lagos with over 20 million residents and an estimated net migration rate of 123,000 people daily, is a uniquely high pressured state,” he said.
Hamzat said that despite the relatively small land mass and some geographical limitations, Lagos accounts for over 60 per cent of industrial and commercial activities of the nation.
He said this had gone to show that the state was controlling a large share of the national economy and market segment.
“It is pertinent to note that the present administration led by Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu is exploring and investing in the use of innovation and technology to create competitive advantage in ensuring that Lagos attains a 21st Century economy.
“Gone are the days of our fore fathers when agriculture depended solely on cutlasses, hoes and nature.
“Today’s agriculture now uses sophisticated technologies such as indoor vertica farming, automation, precision agriculture, greenhouse practices, block chair in marketing, artificial intelligence, GPS technology and a host of others.
“These are technologies, which in turn, will allow businesses to be more efficient, safer, environmentally friendly, competitive and profitable with the aim of productivity enhancement.
“As little as our land is, we want to produce significantly more crops per acre, improve quantity and quality of produce, mitigate against risks and secure the environment,” he said.
Hamzat also said the state government would always contribute its quota to all donor World Bank Assisted Projects through regular payments of its counterpart contributions.
He added that the state would also provide capable human resources for the successful implementation of these projects.
The deputy governor urged the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the grants, while assuring them of the state government’s readiness to develop regulatory framework for farmers to thrive.
He said, “Studies by the National Bureau of Statistics ( NBS) have shown that agricultural sector grew by 3.17 per cent in first quarter of 2019 in Nigeria from 2.46 in fourth quarter in 2018 and it can only get better.
“In a similar vein, to curb unemployment rate in the state which is growing at an alarming rate of 23.1 per cent in Nigeria, the state government launched a N4 billion Fund (LSSTF) for women entrepreneurs through the Lagos State Empowerment Trust Fund (LSSTF).
“The LSSTF is to empower women with ingenious business ideas which will in turn create wealth for the teeming populace.”
The deputy governor also assured the beneficiaries of the state’s readiness to come up with conducive regulatory frameworks and a business-friendly environment for commerce to thrive.
He said this would be achieved by providing support for the key economic sectors which Agriculture is a major part.
“Apart from the need to attain agricultural revolution and food security in the state, the horizon is very promising for using agriculture as one of the driving forces for repositioning Lagos as an investment destination of the nation and making her a 21st Century economy,” he said.
In his welcome address, the Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Gbolahan Lawal, said the graduation of the Batch I WYEP signalled the beginning of a new concept to the APPEALS project implementation.
Lawal said the main thrust of APPEALS project was to increase productivity, production, improve processing and marketing of the target value chains, which would foster job creation along identified value chains.
He said that one of the primary objectives of the APPEALS project was employment generation.
He said that had formed the fulcrum of Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s THEMES Developmental Agenda meant to harness the skills of youths, increase their productivity and unleash their economic potential.
“Women and youth empowerment is not new to us in the state.
“The Ministry of Agriculture has been doing that through various projects such as Agriculture based Youth Empowerment Scheme (Agric-YES), Commercial Agriculture Development Project (CADP).
“Today, I present to you 350 beneficiaries; 165 in Poultry value chain, 35 in Rice value chain and 150 in Aquaculture value chain as batch 1 of the APPEALS project empowerment programme.
“I wish to congratulate all the participants for their involvement in this laudable project which is designed for the unemployed and under employed women and youth with the aim of facilitating income generation and improved livelihood of the beneficiaries,” he said.
He urged them to open up their minds as agro-prenuers and make the best use of the opportunities provided to ensure that the aim of the programme is achieved.
“This is the first leg in the APPEALS empowerment.
“I also want to sound a note of warning that only diligent and serious beneficiaries will receive the grant element of APPEALS project. I charge you all to make the best use of this opportunity,” he said.