Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project (APPEALS) is an initiative of the Nigerian Government which is implemented by the World Bank.
It is a 6-year project designed in line with the Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP) of the Federal Government, and implemented in Cross River, Enugu, Kaduna, Kano, Kogi and Lagos State.
The project is targeting 60,000 individuals as direct beneficiaries, that is 10,000 beneficiaries per state and 300,000 farm household members as indirect beneficiaries.
The project has eleven commodity value chains which include rice, cocoa, poultry, cashew, maize, Ginger, Dairy, wheat, Tomato, Cassava and Aquaculture.
In Kogi state, the rice farmers supported by APPEALS said they have recorded bumper harvest due to the adoption of improved farming practises and other support facilitated by the Kogi State coordination office.
The farmers stated this during the documentation of the implementation of the Value Chain Investment Plan (VCIPs) led by the APPEALS project state coordinator Dr Sanni Abdullahi Ozomata.
The exercise is aimed to ascertain the level of the implementation of their Value Chain Investment Plan and to have first-hand knowledge of farmers’ experiences during the farming season.
A total of 342 rice farmers from 27 Commodity interest groups (CIGS) spanning 782 hectares of farm land located in Ibaji, Idah and Yagba West local government areas of the state were supported with relevant inputs and training for the year 2021 wet farming season.
The farmers said due to the support facilitated by Kogi state APPEALS such as the provision of improved rice seedlings and exposing them to best farming practises they have been able to record over sixty per cent (60%) increase in yield on their rice farms.
They noted that what their farms use to look like before the intervention of the APPEALS project cannot be compared with the way it now looks as there is a great improvement due to the adoption of modern farming techniques and inputs such as the use of tractors for land preparation before planting and also the adoption of line planting system.
They said before the coming of the APPEALS Project they could not farm more than one hectare of farmland and no means of purchasing the needed inputs such as fertilisers, pesticides, and other chemicals that would enhance their productivity but with the support from the APPEALS project, most of the farmers have been empowered to farm more than two hectares each of rice with the provision of the necessary inputs.
Mr Atama Akpagi speaking on behalf of farmers under the Ojodomo Multipurpose Cooperative society, in Ibaji Local government area, said “so far we appreciate the efforts of Kogi APPEALS Project for introducing us to transplanting methods in rice farming which we have not been doing before now, but with the aid of the APPEALS project through seminars and workshop, we were able to practice transplanting methods which has made so much difference in our harvest this year as compared to the previous year’s harvest.
“Before the intervention of the APPEALS project, we use to harvest 100bags of 100kg but with the support of APPEALS we harvest 150bags of 100kg, while in our group of 10 members, our previous year harvest which was 400bags of 110kg, we later harvested 550bags of 100 kg this is with the support of Kogi APPEALS project”.
Also, Mr David Ojoba, a rice farmer in Echa Ejeba Cluster, In Idah Local Government Area of the state said “Before the APPEALS project, what I usually produce is low but now with the support from the Kogi APPEALS Project, I have been able to produce more rice paddy more than what I use to produce before. The rice I produce this year is richer than the previous year because the APPEALS Project support has lifted my production.
“Normally before the intervention of the APPEALS Project, I do produce about 20- 25 bags. But with the support from the APPEALS project I have been able to produce 40 bags, which Is very encouraging.
“The Kogi APPEALS gave us training on how to manage the input they facilitated for us, how to use and apply the chemicals and fertilisers. I thank KOGI APPEALS for all support”.
Another rice farmer at Omi Village in Yagaba West local government area Mr Kayode Ola, said initially he was sceptical about the genuine nature of the APPEALS project since from past experiences similar projects have been introduced to them with nothing to show for it but said he decided to give APPEALS project a trial and now he hasn’t regretted the move.
He said he is happy with the APPEALS Project in the state because of the type of support they facilitated for them that are rice farmers at Omi village.
The rice farmer said he has been struggling with his rice farm over years because he had no money to farm on a large scale but with the support from the APPEALS project he has been able to farm in large quantity that has enabled him to use the proceeds from the sales to further sponsor his children in school and improve his livelihood.
It would be recalled that earlier in the year Kogi APPEALS facilitated the establishment of demonstration plots across eight locations in the state where the farmers were exposed to modern technologies and methods of planting that would lead to increased yield and enhance their productivity.
The technologies demonstrated include the use of a power tiller to pulverise the soil, Faro 44, 60 and 60, Urea Deep Placement using Urea Super Granules to reduce nutrient losses, and System of Rice Intensification (SRI) to maintain optimum plant population and efficient water management. Others are bird repellers to scare birds that cause great damage to maturing paddy in the field, rice harvesters and threshers to reduce drudgery and improve the timeliness of operations with a reduction in post-harvest losses.
The project was approved by the World Bank on March 23, 2017 and became disbursement effective on May 24, 2018. It is expected to close by September 2023″, he said.
The project has reportedly improved on its performance, across all participating states. A total of 277 Value Chain Investment Plans (VCIPs) have been prepared, reviewed and approved for implementation by the beneficiaries.
The project has also documented a total of fifty-five business alliances (off-takers/ out-growers) across nine value chains. In addition, a total of 64 different technologies have been demonstrated to farmers across the participating states.