By Lukman Olabiyi
The various agricultural intervention programmes of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration will soon put an end to the exorbitant cost of food items, Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya, has said.
The commissioner gave the assurance at the graduation of People With Disability (PWD) and special needs at the Agricultural Training Institute, Araga, Epe, recently.
The 165 beneficiaries were trained under the Women and Youth Empowerment Programme of the Lagos office of the Agro-Processing, Productivity, Empowerment and Livelihood (APPEALS) project. They were trained in the rice, aquaculture and poultry value chains.
Olusanya implored all the graduands to access the grant element of the APPEALS project by developing viable investment plans that will not just make them agripreneurs but also employers of labour.
She said: “It is pertinent to note that the present administration of Sanwo-Olu is exploring and investing in the use of technology to create a competitive advantage in ensuring that Lagos attains a 21st century economy. Gone are the days when agriculture depended solely on cutlasses, hoes and nature.
“As little as our land is, we want to produce significantly more crops per acre, improve the quantity and quality of produce, mitigate against risk and secure the environment. This is one of the mandates of the APPEALS project; to ensure that climate-smart and nutrition-sensitive technologies are introduced and adopted by farmers in the state.”
State project coordinator of APPEALS, Mrs. Oluranti Sagoe-Oviebo, said people with disabilities and special needs should not see their physical challenges as a hindrance to their success in life. According to her, knowledge gained during the training would help them become employers of labour and agripreneurs, rather than resort to begging.
National project coordinator of APPEALS, Mohammed Sani Jobdi, praised Gov. Sanwo-Olu, the deputy governor, Obafemi Hamzat, and the state executive council for their commitment to the project in Lagos.
He said Lagos State has been outstanding by increasing the slots for PWDs beyond the stipulated 5 per cent in the APPEALS project and, therefore, urged the 165 graduands to make good use of all they learned during their training.
“It’s been commendable for the success of today’s programme in Lagos. It is for people with disabilities and special needs; it is rare for people to implement this kind of project. The APPEALS project carefully selected 5 per cent of women and youths living with disabilities to train them and to acquire skills of agro-business and enterprises and to support them after they finish the training so they can be employers of labour as well.
“Apart from training them, We have start-up pack for them, which is supported by the World Bank. After the training, they will come up with viable investment plans; this plan will help them after the training to go to private institutions to seek loans. APPEALS projects will analyse their investment plans and, if viable, we will support them in their different kinds of enterprises with grants that will be given to them,” he said.
The graduands, who were excited after receiving their certificates, commended Sanwo-Olu and Lagos APPEALS project for empowering people with disability and special needs in their programmes.
They said the one-week training by Lagos APPEALS project in aquaculture, poultry and rice production has changed their lives positively and they promised to be good agripreneurs in future.
The 165 graduands trained by Lagos APPEALS comprised six clusters: blind, deaf, physically challenged, albino, dwarf and people with cerebral palsy.
Shina Hakeem, a graduand, expressed joy and commended Lagos State government for deeming it fit to empower people with disabilities.
In his words: “It’s a very good programme; it is not the first time the Lagos State government is organising this kind of programme. This programme is one of its kind for people with disabilities. We want government to continue helping people with disabilities for them to have a sense of belonging and as well empower us all. We thank Lagos State government for this opportunity.”
Another graduand, Bukola Olaleye, said, with the programme, government had not only shown them how to fish but also offered them techniques of fishing efficiently.
Muktar Adeniyi, who was trained in poultry farming, did not hide his feelings about the impact of the programme. He commended government and pledged to contribute his quota in crashing food prices.
“I was trained in poultry section. I am enlightened after receiving lectures; it gives me more courage in poultry than the knowledge I had in it before.
” I plan to take this training in a larger way. I appreciate the Lagos State government for the wonderful job, the governor, the APPEALS project and World Bank,” he said.