No fewer than 165 Persons Living with Disabilities and Special Needs (PWDs/SN) on Friday graduated from a one-week Agro-Processing Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) training in Lagos State.
They were trained in rice production, poultry and aquaculture at the Lagos Agricultural Training Institute, Araga, Epe.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, said the state wanted to change the narrative of the group through inclusion.
“We want to change the narrative of people with disability experiencing poorer health outcomes, having less access to education, work opportunities and a likelihood of living in poverty than those without a disability.
“We know that there is ability in disability. This is why the government of Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu is ensuring that nobody is left behind in the scheme of things.
“In Lagos, with over 22 million residents and an estimated net migration rate of 123,000 people daily, it cannot be over-emphasized that the state is a uniquely high pressured state,” she said.
Olusanya noted that the state government was exploring and investing in the use of innovation and technology to create a competitive advantage in ensuring that Lagos attains a 21st-century economy.
She said that in spite of the state’s relatively small landmass and some geographical limitations, it accounted for over 60 percent of the industrial and commercial activities of the nation.
According to her, the APPEALS project is aimed at supporting farmers’ productivity and their linkage to the market with a vision of assisting 10,000 direct beneficiaries with an anticipated 35 percent women beneficiaries.
“Today’s event is, therefore, in furtherance of achieving that objective.
“Gone are the days of our forefathers where agriculture depended solely on cutlasses, hoes and nature.
“Today’s agriculture now uses sophisticated technologies such as indoor vertical farming, automation, precision agriculture, greenhouse practices, blockchain in marketing, artificial intelligence, GPS technology and a host of others.
“This, in turn, will allow businesses to be more efficient, safer, environmentally friendly, competitive and profitable with the aim of productivity enhancement.
“These improved technologies, I want to assure you will in no small means assist in making the work a lot easier for you and ensure sustainability without stress, as little as our land is, we want to produce significantly more crops per acre.
“We want to improve 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,” she said.
Olusanya urged beneficiaries to access the grant element of the project by developing viable investment plans that would not just make them agripreneurs but also make them employers of labour.
Also, the National Project Coordinator, APPEALS Project, Abuja, Mr Mohammed Jobdi, said the training was one of the four major activities that were supported under the sub-component of APPEALS.
Jobdi said the training would continue to set the pace for effective and seamless integration of persons with disabilities and special needs.
“It is indeed a great day today for both the APPEALS family and the Lagos State Government as the project graduates 165 trained eligible beneficiaries of the Persons With Disability and Special Needs (PWD/SN) of the Women & Youth Empowerment Programme (WYEP) across their value chains.
“The World Bank attaches great importance to the inclusion of persons with disabilities and expanding equitable opportunities across the bank’s operations around the world including sustainable, inclusive communities and align with the institution’s goals to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity.
“I make bold to say that our project is one of the very few that considers the integration of persons with disability and special needs in their operations,” he said.
He said the beneficiaries would benefit from the four major activities supported under the women and youth empowerment programme.
He said this includes business, technical and life skill training; and support to business planning and facilitation of business names registration with the corporate commission.
Others are; start-up grants to establish a commercially viable business; and mentorship to provide beneficiaries with continued support from established agribusiness entrepreneurs.
He said the APPEALS project was starting at five percent of the regular women and youth empowerment programme to accommodate the PWDs in the project which hopefully could be scaled up in the future.
A beneficiary, Mr Bamidele Ojo, commended the state and federal governments, as well as the World Bank for including people living with disabilities in the agricultural transformation process of the country.
“It gladdens my heart that the PWDs have been included in the APPEALS project. This is the first of its kind and I thank the APPEALS project. nan.”