450 Women, Youths Resume Training on World Bank Assisted APPEALS Project in C’River
BY: Joseph Ephriam
Four hundred and fifty women and youths are currently being trained in the second batch of the World Bank assisted project under the Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement, and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) Project in Cross River State.
The programme was cut short earlier in the year as the COVID-19 Pandemic forced a lockdown in the country. It resumed last week in the state with the approvals of all relevant authorities including the National Center for Disease Control, NCDC.
Cross River State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ntufam Okon Nyong Uwuna who flagged off the resumption of the programme made the disclosure at the weekend during the induction of the Second batch of training into the different value chains of interests at Songhai Farms, Itighidi in Abi Local Government of Cross River State.
The APPEALS project is a World Bank assisted project, implemented through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and it operates in six states of the federation; Cross River, Enugu, Lagos, Kogi, Kano, and Kaduna.
For Cross River State, the value chains cut across Cocoa, Rice, Poultry, and Aquaculture. The State Project Coordinator, Mr. Marcel Agim commended the State Governor, Prof Ben Ayade for lobbying to bring the programme into the state and disclosed that “the participants will spend two weeks in the camp for intensive training and while in the camp, APPEALS will cater for their welfare, feeding, accommodation, health and any other thing that they may need”.
He revealed that the participants were selected through a rigorous exercise and that Cross River State recorded about 31,000 applications which they passed through several scrutinies, out of which 1,700 was selected and 1,602 out of the 1,700 are regular beneficiaries without challenges in health and while the remaining 98 are physically challenged Persons.
“The training is going to take four batches, so far we had trained the first batch in February before the COVID19 pandemic sets in; and this is the second batch. We have 450 participants on the ground and we have comfortable accommodation with which we follow all the COVID19 protocol”.
“Equally, part of our training is also running in an affiliate institute at Obasi Farm in Akamkpa LGA where 150 participants will be trained on Poultry. So each batch we are running 450 participants, after this second batch, we will be left with two more batches to go” he said.
The Commissioner for Agriculture, Ntufam Okon Owuna, commended President Buhari for ensuring that this scheme survive in Nigeria and lauded Prof Ben Ayade for his effort to ensure that Cross River State is among the six-state to benefit from this programme in the whole federation.
The Commissioner disclosed that they got the approval of NCDC both at the state level and the national level to commence the programme. We also got approval from the World Bank, the federal government and the Governor of Cross River State to commence this training of the APPEALS project in Cross River State.
According to him, every participant admitted to the camp passed through COVID-19 test, as they were disinfected and were admonished to comply strictly with all the COVID-19 protocols.
He said that the programme came into the state to compliments the state governor’s effort on Agro industrialization in the state.
He added, “The Governor is doing all his best even with the very tight economy, since we lost our oil wells to our neighboring state, the economy of Cross River State have been dwindling. The only option left for the Governor was to go back to agriculture which was what the country survived on, even before the advent of oil and I think we are doing well”.
The Commissioner appealed to the federal government to consider Cross River State in every federal intervention in Agriculture because it has a comparative advantage in terms of ecology more any other state in the country.
One of the trainees, Anita Andem Ita from Akpabuyo LGA whose interest is in the Aquaculture value chain, expressed delight that she was among the few that was selected from many.
She commended that state government for canvassing for this project to come into the state and assured that after this training exercise, she will go into full-time Fish farming and will in turn train others so that the poverty level in the country will be reduced.
Another trainee, Joseph Ofutanne from Akamkpa whose interest is in the Cocoa value chain, says he dislikes any white-collar job because he has a passion for Agriculture and with the empowerment he will get from federal government, he will create employment opportunity in his cocoa farm.