APPEALS Collaborate with ALF to train 250 Farmers on 2nd level financing in Lagos
The Agro-Processing Productivity, Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) project Lagos State and the Africa Leadership Forum (ALF) are collaborating to train 250 farmer beneficiaries on accessing second level financing for their farm business venture.
The State Project Coordinator, APPEALS, Mrs Oluranti Sageo-Oviebo, disclosed this on Wednesday in Lagos, during the graduation of the first batch of 50 beneficiaries under the aquaculture, poultry and rice value chains. The training was themed, “Entrepreneurship Accessing Single Digit CBN Agro-Credit and Export Readiness”.
Sageo-Oviebo explained that the second level financing training was very important as the grant available under the project would not be able to finance large scale farmers. That the beneficiaries under the Commercial Agriculture Development Project (CADP) who have done very well need to be trained on accessing more funds.
“We have five batches, 50 persons per batch, totaling 250 beneficiaries by the end of December. The criteria for selecting the trainees was farmers who benefited under the CADP and are doing very well, and also some women and youth who benefited and are doing very well.
“The truth is, we cannot support everybody with grant under this project, so for those we feel we cannot support based on the scale of their farms and all of that, we decided to bring them out and asked them to attend this training.
“Then we looked at farmers who had potential for export market because it is not everybody that can get into the international market; so, that was another criteria we looked at,” she added.
She said that after the training, the project will not stop there, but will work closely with the notable organization and regulatory agencies to help the beneficiaries to access necessary certification.
“We are looking at clusters and possible ways of satisfying them as a project, and we are not working in isolation; we are doing alliance, like farmers with processors and then the market. This is where we are partnering with EDI, Export Promotion, NAFDAC and other regulatory agencies.
“We will be facilitating and ensuring that farmers do not get into financial contracts that they will not be committed to, we will not leave them on their own, we are ready to support them all the way through.”
The Executive Director, (ALF), Dr Olumide Ajayi, said that donor projects such as the APPEALS needed to be sustained.
Ajayi said that second level financing for farmers was the agriculture funds via the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at single digits.
“We have done a lot in the area of capacity building in governance and enterprise development. We have been working with the CBN since 2008, we were made the enterprise development firm for South-West in 2013.
“It has been a continuous process with them, and under this new dispensation where they have to set up a bank for the intervention funds, the ALF has been accredited as the EDI to train and assist small business owners to be able to understand how to manage a business before giving them the loan.
“Projects in Nigeria, particularly the ones that have to do with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), when projects of this nature have external interventions, this issue is about sustainability.
“Once the donors withdraw their assistance, the enterprises who benefitted just go down. So, what we are doing is collaborating with the APPEALS to offer this finance known as the second level finance to ensure sustainability after the World Bank withdraws.
“So, we will train them and give them all the requisite knowledge they need beyond what the project has done for them to enable them access funding and create more jobs,” he added.
The Chairman of Rhyss Farms Limited and a former Permanent Secretary of the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Olajide Bashorun, said that export was important to earn foreign exchange, that the training was timely to improve farmers’ capacity to get technical know-how, and in the long run, earn foreign exchange to develop the economy.
REPORTED BY OLADIMEJI OGUNTOYINBO
WORLD FARMERS CENTRE