…World Bank, CADP, state send monitors
From Chukwudera Eze and Victor Okoye, Enugu
When the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) was floated last year by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, the aim was to empower women and youths in the country to be self-sufficient.
One year down the line, Enugu State, one of the states selected for the pilot scheme assisted by the World Bank, the Federal Government and the state government, has produced the first batch of beneficiaries.
Comprising 98 youths and women from Enugu State, the beneficiaries were sent to the Songhai Farm, Porto-Novo, Republic of Benin, and Itigidi in Cross River State, where they partook in a two-week intensive training in agriculture.
With the first batch beginning their own businesses, the Commercial Agriculture Development Project (CADP), a subsidiary of the Enugu State Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resourcing, which is overseeing the programme, appointed service providers to aid the beneficiaries to set up their enterprises last month.
One month after, the CADP appointed three teams to traverse the three senatorial zones of Enugu North, Enugu West and Enugu East to see how the beneficiaries were faring.
Inaugurating the three teams, the coordinator of CADP, Mr. Robinson Nduaguba, urged the team leaders to be thorough in the monitoring exercise, saying that what has been put up must conform with the World Bank’s guidelines.
Each of the beneficiaries was to get a grant of N2.5 million through a service provider who would ensure that the beneficiary received the required facilities and materials to function in a particular business value chain.
The different value chains in the programme include rice, poultry, maize, aquaculture, tomato, wheat, sorghum, apiculture, soya beans, cassava, groundnut, oil palm, snail, grass-cutter and other aspects such as welding, fabrication, repair and maintenance.
Oriental News gathered that beneficiaries in the second batch have commenced their training at the Songhai facilities in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, and Eneke in Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State.
The leaders of the three teams, Sunday Ogbuiya, Enugu West; Ikechukwu Okechukwu, Enugu East, and Daniel Ede, Enugu North, who carried out inspections last week accompanied by other stakeholders and newsmen to verify the performance of the 98 beneficiaries were satisfied with what they saw on site, although there were some complaints.
Ogbuiya explained that the first beneficiaries embarked on processing, production and marketing enterprises. He expressed joy at the level of performance of the projects and called on the authorities in the state to rise up to the challenge to ensure that more beneficiaries are captured.
However, some of the beneficiaries complained that their major challenge was the delay on the part of the service providers, who they claimed did not adhere strictly to their work diagrammes as witnessed at Chioma Agro Farms, Umuewo Uhueze Nenwe, where Mrs. Gloria Nweke, who is into poultry layers production, expressed bitterness on how her farm was poorly executed.
Thereafter, the contractor and service provider for the farm, Spider Engineering, was advised to buckle up to keep with the timeframe specificied in theMemoradum of Understanding with the CADP and agro farms.
The CADP team also inspected the sites of the beneficiaries who were into rice processing at Umueje, Adani, Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area, Enugu State, popularly known as the home of rice.
Speaking with Oriental News, one of the beneficiaries, Mrs. Judith Odoh, who sited her enterprise in a deserted building, said that she applied for N2.4 million for rice processing, but because of the hike in machine procurement, the money may not be enough.
Her words: “I applied for N2.4 million, but it will not be enough considering the hike in the price of machines in the market. We were told during our training to start small; I will start from where the money can reach, believing God that the business will grow. But my major challenge is the increment in the machine price that will help me process the rice. For instance, when I was writing my proposal, a 22-horsepower milling machine was sold for N550,000, but when I visited the market again I discovered that it is now around N900,000.
“I intend to try another make or step down on the capacity of the machine, provided the business starts; then as it progresses, I will go for the higher one and I believe that I will deliver. Not only me, but other people will benefit as is the intention of the World Bank through CADP, to create employment in the country.”
Another beneficiary, Mr. Joel Dieketa, who is set to go into rice processing and set up his enterprise in a section of the road that was in bad condition, said he applied for N2 million, but his challenge was the dilapidated road and how to go about renovating his site.
“My major challenge is on the area of renovation as I’m told to do so, considering the economy of the country now, and also the nature of the road that leads to this place. The road is very bad, but we have to go on with our businesses,” he said.
On his part, the team leader for Enugu North, Edeh, said that the main reason for the inspection was to ascertain if the proposed sites of the beneficiaries would be good for their business and to educate them on how to proceed, as well as to know whether the service providers were doing what they were meant to do.
One of the beneficiaries and leader of Enugu State Songhai Farm, Mr. Mbah Patrick, owner of Udo-Pat Integrated Farms, Achi, Oji River LGA, appreciated Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State and the World Bank for setting up a programme that would benefit the state and the country at large.