.Calls on organisations, others for collaboration
…as CBN, others laud project, pledge to support the initiative
As part of ongoing efforts to eradicate poverty, while strengthening agricultural development in Africa, particularly in Nigeria, Better Life Program for the African Rural Woman (BLPARW) has launched a new initiative, ‘Project 5/5/5, which will empower 100,000 women and 6664 Cooperatives in five years with five products from five States in the country.
The new strategy, which will be implemented over the next five years, is widely believed that will make the biggest possible impact on the lives of vulnerable girls and women in the country while providing lasting change for those who needed the support most.
Speaking during her presentation at the official launch of the project in Lagos recently, with the theme, a story to “Project 5/5/5”, Lead Consultant, Prinsult Global Consulting Limited, Raliat Oyetunde, explained that the initiative will be focussing on five agricultural produce, including; Sesame from Nasarawa State, Plantain from Delta State; Yam and Tomatoes from Benue State; Palm Oil from Enugu State and Shea from Niger State.
Oyetunde, who highlighted steps by step considered in the initiative, noted that after collaboration, input and support from partners, the next step will be to mobilize farmers, which will be followed by team monitoring.
She, also, stated that there will be adequate investment, provision of innovation, build a cottage factory for the value add and market linkage to help the farmers.
Giving the summary of the project, the consultant guru stated that the project will increase farmers’ output yields, via improved inputs and capacity building, with movement across different regions of the five states.
Although, she identified input challenges, including; fertilizer, poor quality, inadequate water management and lack of information, adding that the majority of farmers lack basic information on irrigation, skills in maintaining and operating farmland, which often affects the yields of their crops.
However, believed that the implementation of Project 5/5/5 will empower in building the capacity of 100,000 women in Agriculture, which will help them to produce a better yield and offer greater income.
According to the latest figure by the World Bank, “Not less than 80 per cent of the world’s extreme poor living in rural areas, and the solutions to transform rural economies are not an academic matter, but a call to action and women empowerment has been identified as key to achieving that.”
In view of this, the project consultant gave a breakdown of how to achieve empowerment of the targeted 100,000 women in five years, pointing out that BLPARW will ensure the farmers get literacy and engaged them by allowing them becoming registered members of BLPARW, which enable them to be in the database.
Also, going to carry out health active programme, by checking them periodically, and tell them why it is important to have a clean environment, and the importance of being healthy, so as to enable them to carry out their role and play it effectively as a woman.
“We are going to give the farmers fertilizers, and provide access to funds, and then monitoring and evaluation, because our teams will be moving to visit these women periodically apart from having local representative, while also providing access to market, community development, which leads to a reduction in poverty, as wealth is being created for rural women.”
Giving the breakdown of how to capture the 100,000 women in the Project 5/5/5, in 5 years with 5 products from 5 states in the country, Oyetunde said, “Remember we are in five states, so, each state will be 20,000 each, and we are starting the year one with Benue and Niger states. That means per year is 4000 women, but are we going to pack 4000 women in a room? No, so Benue that has 20 local governments producing, we are going to form cooperatives, and there will be 20 to 25 women in each cooperative and it will be 4000 divided by the number of the cooperatives those numbers are the number.”
She stated further, “In Niger state, I have Shea butter for 15 local governments, so am going to form cooperative. along 4000 divided 15 local government divide by that number, so at the end of the year one, when we gather here all together by Gods Grace, we will have form 426 cooperatives and we will have to empower 8000 rural farmers.
“Year two will move to the 5 states, we still continue to do 4, 4000 in Benue and Niger, remember we have done 4000 because we are starting Nasarawa, Enugu and Delta. Second, we start then 5, 5000 each again, that 5000 will make that cooperative.
“By the year three, we move the same way 4000 to 5000, year four same, year five the same, and by the end of the fifth year, we would have formed 6664 cooperatives, and with your partnership, collaboration and help, we would have empowered 100,000 rural women in Nigeria”, she explained.
Speaking on the ‘Vision to the BLPARW Goal’, Chairperson, Better Life Program for the African Rural Woman (BLPARW)’, Hajiya Aisha Babangidastated that Agriculture is perhaps one of the most important factors of social-economic development in Africa.
She noted that it serves as one of the biggest employers of labour, given that the statistics provided by FAF and the Mechanism analysis, Babangida said, “there are more than 500 million, smallholder farmers in Africa, with more than 60 per cent of the entire population of sub-Sahara Africa also been smallholder farmers.
According to her, about 20 per cent of sub-Sahara Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) comes from Agriculture while these farmers are also responsible for 80 per cent of the food consumed in Africa and Asia.
“When you look at these numbers, you realised that Africa full agriculture potentials remain in many ways untapped, for example, Africa produces two or three times more cereal and grains than are currently produces which will add up 20 per cent more cereal and grains to the current 2.6billion turns.
Examining some of the most presents challenges faced by the Nigeria agriculture sector, she explained, “The first is the lack of financial support, the need for financial support to help them grow, expand and improve their yields, even though, they are various microfinance institutions in the country.
“So many farmers cannot access them and few encounter delay financing, for example, things such as high braid seeds yield better and more tolerance and disease resistance than others but they are sold at a higher price than regular seeds, like insufficient financial incentives.
Maybe seeds less affordable for the smallholder farmers and for this reason, they are usually forced to make do, with the less yielding seeds.
“Another challenge faced by Nigerian farmers is the lack of information. This constraint stands as a root challenge, small scale and large scale as well, farmers face today, Farmer is missing out on new and improved method of farming.
She, however, stressed that access to the market is one of the biggest challenges faced by smallholder farmers, which directly affects their incomes and living standard.
“Lack of marketability and poor government regulators pose a serious threat to these farmers harvesting. They are unable to sell their products at a good price, hence this results in substantial after harvest losses and food wastage which is entirely another challenging issue facing the agricultural economy.
“Improved market facilities, good government regulations and policies can go a long way in helping smallholder farmers and as my sister highlighted earlier, one of the other factors is storage and this will actually take care of all the issues”, she said.
Also speaking, Assistant Director, Development Finance Department, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr Ada Momah, lauded the initiative, congratulating Aisha Babangida for stepping into her mother’s shoe because it is not easy.
“From the CBN perspective, we have long realised the importance of women in economic development, in fact, socio-economic development. And because of that, we have developed a good initiative for women.
“We have over 15 interventions in the central bank and one of them particularly was earmarked for women, the N220 billion, Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Development Fund, which has 60 per cent strictly for the women.“CBN, however, has so many other interventions that needed more partnerships, one is the Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP), among many others, the central bank will quiet happy to partner with you”, Momah said.