By Olatunde Ajayi
The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) has conducted training and empowerment programmes for selected women-owned farmers’ cooperative societies in Oyo State.
The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that the primary objective of this initiative is to enhance the productivity and export potential of these farmers in the manufacturing and processing sectors within the state.
The Director-General, SMEDAN, Dr Olawale Fasanya, at the closing ceremony of the capacity building for the Women in Self-Employment Programme (WISE-P), in Ibadan, said the training was to enhance the production of high-quality foods.
Fasanya, who was represented by SMEDAN Deputy Director, Special Duties, Mr Tunde Oloyede, said that the programme included entrepreneurship and enterprise training, with a specific focus on Hazard and Critical Control Point (HACCP) and delivery of empowerment equipments.
According to him, the training package, designed to enhance the beneficiaries’ capacity, will not produce quality products that only meet the standards of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) but other international market requirements.
“This capacity building will also create a financial enablement for women cooperatives and their businesses on the needed sound footing for impact – in terms of pride, profit, and diversification.
“The objectives of this programme, therefore, include to encourage more women cooperatives to embrace processing and manufacturing food related products as a viable business option and to encourage the diversification of the economy away from crude oil into non-oil exports,” he said.
Also, Mr Ademola Ojo, the Commissioner for Trade, Industry, Investment, and Cooperatives in Oyo State, urged the beneficiaries to leverage the skills acquired during the training to expand and effectively manage their vocational enterprises.
Ojo said this would help them to focus on wealth creation and employment generation within the cooperative societies.
He noted that it would contribute positively to the nation’s economy and improve the standard of living for citizens.
“I wish to add that the Oyo State Government, under the leadership of Governor Seyi Makinde, will continue to provide an enabling environment for private enterprises to thrive in the state,” he said.
In his lecture, Dr James Marsh, a food safety consultant from HAACP Academy Nigeria (HAN), charged the participants to be mindful of food hygiene, food fraud, food terrorism, bioterrorism and food sabotage in their operations.
He urged the participants to always imbibe and practice food safety so that they could favourably compete with producers in the international community.
“Majority of ailments that people have is as a result of what they eat.
“Life expectancy rate in Nigeria is not an encouraging figure, we need to focus more on preventive medicine through food safety.
“Government also need to do more on food sensitisation,” he said.
One of the beneficiaries from Agricultural Exporting Farmers’ Multipurpose Cooperative Society, Dr Oluwatomisin Olatunji, said that the training had exposed the participants to food safety system that would ensure that Nigeria products are accepted both locally and internationally.
Another beneficiary from Olorunsogo Oba-Agbe Mechanised Farmers’ Multipurpose Cooperative Society, Mrs Damilola Bukola, urged government to ensure strict compliance with food industry regulations.
She said this would help to improve standard of food coming out of Nigeria to international community.
NAN reports that the two selected cooperatives were empowered with dehydrator for drying food products, slicing machine, power miller for milling dried products and automatic sealing machine for sealing finished products. (NAN)
Edited by Olawunmi Ashafa