By Alex Enebeli
The Enugu State Government says it has constructed 15 aggregation and processing centres for improved production of cashew, rice and poultry products in the state.
Mrs. Ihuoma Eze, the Acting State Project Coordinator of the World Bank-assisted Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) Project disclosed this on Thursday in Enugu.
During a media tour of the Nara rice and cashew aggregation and processing centres at Aguobu-Owa, Eze said that the projects were sponsored by the World Bank-assisted APPEALS project.
She added that the state government had also equipped the centres with agro-processing equipment and energy intervention for power supply to assist the rural farmers.
She said the centres were spread across 11 locations in the state’s three senatorial zones in accordance with their value chain belts.
The project coordinator added that the APPEALS Project had also installed equipment and energy in nine locations connecting farm clusters and common-user facilities to the national grid with 500kva/0.415 facility.
She explained that the feat was also made possible by Gov. Peter Mbah’s massive support, adding that the development would help to further increase cashew, rice and poultry outputs in the state.
“Farmers in the state suffer post-harvest losses due to inadequate bulk storage houses and near-absence of processing facilities.
“To reduce the losses, the APPEALS project in Enugu provided common-user facilities to farm clusters where farmers in cashew, poultry and rice value chains can store their produce and process them up to international standard.
“This will enhance their productivity, improve value addition and open vistas of market opportunities both locally and internationally,” she said.
The project coordinator commended the state governor for his immense contribution at ensuring the success of the project in the state, within his first 100 days in office.
Speaking to newsmen, the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Chidiebere Onyia, lauded the APPEALS team in Enugu for their dedication.
He stressed that setting up the agro-centres was in line with the governor’s vision for agriculture in the state.
He said that the project had enhanced the capacity of the local farmers across value chains that had comparative advantage in each senatorial zone of the state.
“As we push towards eradicating poverty, projects like this will help get to rural farmers, not just farming to consume but to improve the economy and employ others to reduce unemployment,” Onyia said.
Mr JohnMary Eze, a Rice Farmer, said that the rice processing centre was of great help to rice farmers in Nara and neighbouring communities in Enugu East Local Government Area.
He said that prior to the establishment of the centre, the farmers usually processed their rice at Ugbawka, a neighbourng community, relying on sunshine to dry their paddy rice.
While commending the World Bank, the Federal and Enugu State Governments for initiating the project, Eze noted that lack of tractors and access roads still posed a great challenge to rice farmers in the community.
“We also appeal to the government to provide irrigation for us for all year- round rice farming, as we currently depend on rainfall to plant our rice,” he said. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Kevin Okunzuwa/Oluyinka Fadare