No fewer than 66 persons have benefitted from the Cottage Crops Processing Factory Programme of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD)
Mr Owolabi Olusegun, a Deputy Director in the Federal Department of Agriculture, said this in Ibadan at the 2nd workshop on Cottage Crops Processing Factories in Nigeria.
Olusegun also said 38 factories for intending beneficiaries were being processed.
The crop processing factory programme is a Public Private Partnership project involving government, the private sector as well as the Bank of Industry (BOI) which is the fund manager.
The government acts as facilitator while the private sector runs the business.
Olusegun said that the programme was aimed at moving the sector from traditional processing activities into organised models which pay attention to standardisation, packaging and marketing in collaboration with NAFDAC and SON among others.
“The programme is fast growing and becoming acceptable to Nigerian farmers, potentials processors through the increasing expression of interest most especially in cassava, oil palm and rice,’’ he said.
Dr Bukar Hassan, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, said the workshop would give stakeholders opportunity to discuss the prospects and challenges that had been recorded over the past years.
Hassan, who was represented by Mrs Comfort Awe, the ministry’s Regional Director in the South West Zone, said the workshop was the outcome of concerted efforts of government to ensure that agricultural development was brought to the door steps of the rural populace.
“With this programme, the beneficiaries would meet the processing needs of the people, provide employment, raise the condition of living of the populace and reduce youth restiveness.The agriculture promotion policy of President Muhammadu Buhari is on to move agriculture from developmental project to a business project,” he observed.
“It is the desire of government to achieve this by involving all stakeholders and bringing all aspects of agriculture along value chain from production ,subsequent value addition to final product to the rural areas and particularly to the farm gate,’’ he said.
Hassan said that an average of 50 per cent of yearly produce was being lost due to poor handling during harvest, transportation, processing, packaging and storage.
He said that food availability was not synonymous with food production, adding that the ongoing increase in production needed to be matched with better processing facilities to achieve a quality product, eliminate wastage and ensure a pass of any market test.
Hassan said that the aim of the Cottage Crops Processing Factory Programme of the ministry was to promote crop value addition as a business.
This, he said, was through the establishment of an all involved cottage crops processing factory and promotion of rural crops processing around farmers clusters.
He said that this would help to avert loss of produce, prolong produce shelf life as well as increase farmers’ income.