The World Bank has doled out over N400 million as grant to 57 agric cooperatives under the Agro Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) project in Enugu State.
APPEALS Project Coordinator in Enugu, Mr. Christian Odigbo, who revealed this during an implementation workshop for the beneficiaries, said the grant was to enhance farmers’ adoption of technology.
He hinted that the farmers would not receive the grant in cash but that different farm input, which they had requested through an approved business plan, would be paid for through certified suppliers.
“This is in respect of the component of one of our projects which is support for technology adoption. Support to farmers who are in cooperatives. The project supports what they are doing with input up to the amount that was approved to them. This is not a loan; it is a grant so they are not expected to pay back.
“The payment goes to the service providers who will supply them all the items they requested for in their business plan. Some of the cooperatives would receive N10 million while some will receive N13 million based on their needs and capacity,” he said
Communication Officer of APPEALS in Enugu State, Mr. Ambrose Igboke, further explained that the World Bank project was facilitated by the Enugu State Government through the payment of counterpart funds to support farmers in different value chains.
“The project is courtesy of the World Bank, Enugu State Government and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture. Enugu State is the only state in the South East that has APPEALS project. Enugu State paid N244 million as a counterpart fund, which is a prerequisite for the project to be operational in the state,” he said.
Igboke stated that Enugu is the only state in the southeast where the APPEALS programme is running at the moment, stressing that the target is to improve interest in agriculture and increase yield by over 100 per cent before the programme exits in 2023.
“Our objective is to enhance agricultural productivity of small and medium scale farmers and improve value addition along priority value chains. The project also has dedicated sub-components to benefit women and children,” he added
He said the state government is intervening in three agricultural value chains such as poultry, cashew and rice. Some of the beneficiaries who spoke at the event said they had already started receiving input from certified suppliers and praised the state government for embarking on the project “as it would save them from the rigours of obtaining loans from banks to support their agricultural initiatives.”