Beneficiaries tell success stories of commercial agric devt project in Lagos

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To many Nigerians, the Commercial Agriculture Development Project (CADP) scheme, developed by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources (FMAWR) in collaboration with the World Bank, may sound like a fairy tale, but for the beneficiaries, particularly in Lagos State, it is a promise kept.

In line with the aphorism, “The taste of the pudding is in the eating”, some young graduates in Lagos are now savouring the sweetness of the scheme.

Where we were

In many parts of Nigeria, Agriculture had been practised for many years at subsistence level. People engaged in farming activities for their stomach and not for commercial purposes.

In the recent past, agricultural produce wasted away as a result of combination of factors ranging from lack of access roads to move the produce to areas where they were needed; lackadaisical attitude of farmers who thought there was no need to “bother” themselves selling their produce; lack of access to cheap transportation system, among others.

Those were the days when economic trees would produce their fruits and such fruits were allowed to rot away. People saw such fruits as food for birds and other lesser creatures. That was when oranges, guavas, mangoes, bananas, plantains, pears were left to rot away in the full glare of farmers in local communities.

At that time, many farmers did not know what to do with their farm produce beyond consumption. They did not think of their labour as money-spinning venture. A few that sold some produce such as cassava and yam tubers sold them in their raw state; there was no value addition.

However, with the diversification drive of the government given the slump of the oil price in the international market, emphasis is now on alternative means of foreign exchange earnings and a campaign for massive food production to feed the ever-increasing population of the country.

Today, the narrative is changing as even the youths and fresh graduates from Nigeria’s institutions of higher learning are volunteering into full-time engagement in Agriculture. It can safely be said that interest in commercial agriculture in Nigeria is growing.

From the horse’s mouth

Najeem Olalekan Gbadamosi is elated at the opportunity given to him by the Lagos State government.  A graduate of Electrical-Electronics Engineering from a technical school in Lagos is currently into Aquaculture value chain under the scheme.

“I got information about the project from a newspaper and a Television programme on LTV (Lagos Television). I got the form, filled it and I was selected. I had one month training at the Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR), Victoria Island, Lagos. I was awarded a certificate on completion of the training. Thereafter, I registered a company- Starworld Integrated Farm Nigeria Enterprises- with the CAC and opened accounts (current and savings) with Fidelity Bank. Over 50 service providers came to me; they provided everything I needed for the business according to my proposal.” Gbadamosi said.

The indigene of Lagos from Agege said he has completed first phase of his business and ploughed back the profit into the second phase.

“The total initial cost outlay was N2.35million. But it was not given to me in cash. It was given to me in the form of input into the business. All the things I needed, they provided, which covered the running cost. For instance, at inception, I was provided with borehole, generating sets, petrol, fish, feeds, etc. I started with 1,500 fish today it is about 3,500,” he said.

According to him, “the important thing is that I enjoy what am doing. Naturally, I like agriculture. It was my father that insisted I should study Electrical Engineering because of his own background. I do not regret it though, because I am using the experience in my farm. I do all the electrical and technical work by myself; so, it is good for me.”

Expressing gratitude to the state government and those handling the project, Gbadamosi urged other youths to avail themselves of such great opportunities.

Fetuga Babatunde Ibrahim from Epe, a graduate of Business Education, majoring in Accounting, from Tai Solarin College of Education, Ijagun, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, is also a beneficiary of the programme.

Speaking with BDSUNDAY, Ibrahim said he is into poultry production at the moment.

“I had a 3-week training at the commercial poultry project (Poultry Plaza) of Lagos State located at Alaja, Epe. At the end of the training, I was given starter packs which include cage (for the birds), feeds, generating set, crates to pick the eggs, shovels, wheel barrows, etc. I was given about 500 birds,” he said.

‘I registered my company, Cuboktu Enterprises, with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC),” he further said.

Asked to estimate the total amount of the seed money given to him, Ibrahim said that no amount was given in cash, but that he was provided with all he needed to take off.

“What is given to everybody depends on one’s business plan. My business plan needed about N2.5million naira,” he said.

On why he chose to go into agriculture rather than seek white collar jobs, Ibrahim said: “I have done white collar job before and I was not satisfied with what was coming in and I wanted to work for myself knowing that it would pay me more to do so than to work for other people. The CADP is what I can recommend for anybody any day, particularly the target group which is young graduates.”

Bello Folashade from Iyana Ipaja, Lagos is in the project in the category of Poultry Marketing. Speaking with BDSUNDAY, she said: “I am grateful to Lagos State for considering me for the project. I was not doing anything before now; I had no job, but they have started giving me eggs to sell. I got close to 200 crates of eggs the first time I was supplied and business is really good. I am currently sharing a shop with somebody at Ayobo, but very soon my own shop will be ready.”

Asked if she could recommend the business for others, she said: “It is a very good business; you will never regret doing it. That’s what I tell my friends. You know in any business, you have to learn how well to do it. You see, eggs come in different sizes, there are sizes you sell N800; some N900, and some N1000. So you must be careful so that you will not run at a loss. I have since registered my business with CAC. My business name is Ajishade Farms.”

Why CADP?

The Commercial Agriculture Development Project (CADP) aims to improve Agriculture production in Nigeria by supporting the commercialisation of agriculture production, processing and marketing outputs among small and medium-scale commercial farmers and agro-processors.

CADP is supporting the Federal Government of Nigeria strategy options of diversifying into non-oil sources of growth and away from over dependence on oil and gas. To achieve the above objectives, the project aims at improving access of participating commercial farmers to new technologies, improved infrastructures, finances, and output markets, to strengthening agricultural production systems and facilitate access to market for some targeted value chains among small and medium scale commercial farmers in five participating states: Cross Rivers, Enugu State, Kaduna State, Kano State and Lagos State.

Project justification design principles

The basic strategy of the project was to improve the business environment for agriculture to become more successful by gradually shifting from subsistence to commercial agriculture. The project strived to sustainably boost the incomes of target beneficiaries, through a value chain approach with strong emphasis on stakeholder participation, especially at the Commodity Interest Groups (CIGs), Commercial Agriculture Development Associations (CADAs) and women and youth levels.

Moreover, value chain approach was used for the implementation of the project.  A typical chain will include producers, assemblers/traders, processors, distributors, retailers and finally consumers.

The strategic thrusts of the project were- to support access to productivity-enhancing technologies; to improve market access; to build and improve capacity in areas of need and to improve access to rural infrastructure (i.e. network of roads and electricity).

Project development objectives

The Project Development Objective (PDO) of the CADP was to strengthen agricultural production systems and facilitate access to market for targeted value chains among small and medium scale commercial farmers in the five participating states.  The value chains for Lagos State were poultry, aquaculture and rice as staples.

The project

(a)        Project scope

Small and medium commercial farms benefitted over a period of seven years directly while many households benefitted indirectly through access to farm roads, energy and markets opportunities.

 Farm access roads

The project supported the rehabilitation of sixteen (16) Farm access roads of 34.9 Km across the state.

About 78.8percent of the respondents in a survey carried out by the project indicated that the farm input supply was very timely after the road intervention.

For the three value chains, there was increase in the percentage of those who obtained farm input at farm gate after the road intervention from 45 percent before to 78.8 percent.

Similarly, the cost of transportation of goods per metric/Km decreased from ₦750.82 to ₦480.84 after the road construction to the farms. The average time to get produce transported to marketing points reduced from about 60 minutes to less than 15 minutes for most respondents.

The road intervention has significantly impacted the quantity of outputs, as well as, income of the respondents.

CADP women youth empowerment

The objectives and plans for the CADP women and youth empowerment include- to attract and encourage young men and women to become successful agricultural entrepreneurs; to support the following Value Chains – Rice, Maize, Cocoa, Oil Palm, Fruit Trees, Poultry, Dairy and Aquaculture in the five participating States – Cross River, Enugu, Lagos, Kaduna and Kano; to provide training for promising agriculture entrepreneurs and fund their viable business proposals. The training was done in two (2) batches in the state; to provide each youth and women entrepreneur with a grant that will not exceed 3 million Naira with 100percent from International Development Association (IDA); beneficiaries constituted in a group of 3-5 individuals attracted additional project support. Group registration and peer collaboration/interaction were encouraged.

Fund disbursement has been done for the 315 WYEP beneficiaries in the state and implementation is in progress across the segments of the three Value Chains of Aquaculture, Poultry and Rice.

 4 core elements in the post award management of awardees

Funds disbursement: Funds are disbursed in kind through service providers and the amount to be disbursed depends on the proposal submitted. Awardees are encouraged to register their business with the CAC, sign a legal agreement with CADP, open a corporate account (if they do not have one) and satisfy validation criteria.

Training: Awardees attend a general agric-business/technical training

Monitoring: Awardees are mentored by existing state CADP monitoring teams.

Mentoring: Awardees will be assigned mentors from CADP lead farmers and YouWin to support their businesses.

Zebulon Agomuo

Culled from here

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