The Federal Government of Nigeria through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is shortlisting 1700 Nigerians in Cross River State to benefit from the World Bank assisted Agro-Processing Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project (APPEAL).
The Project Operations Manager of the APPEAL, Dr Salisu Garba told newsmen at Axari Hotel, Calabar, venue of the interview exercise, that the exercise will last for six days and the target number required is 1700 Nigerians within the Cross River State catchment area.
He explained that across the six geopolitical zones in the country, six states were chosen for the project and that, the project was developed by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in collaboration with the World Bank and other stakeholders.
The six states across the Country with similar projects are, Cross River, Enugu, Kaduna, Kano, Kogi and Lagos State, he noted.
Garba said a total of 45 000 Nigerians applied for the programme in Cross River State and that a process was put in place where resource persons shortlisted the number from 45, 000 to 2900 for the current interview exercise.
Also speaking, the Cross River State Operations Coordinator of the Project, Mr Marcel Agim explained that there are two components of the project, namely, the Cooperative component and the Women and Youth empowerment component.
His words, “In the women and youth empowerment component, we are empowering women of 40 years of age to infinity; so long as you are still strong.”
“For the youths, the age bracket is from 18 to 40 years. The application was taken sometime in the month of May this year and the requirement from the World Bank is for us to select finally 1,700. We did the pre-selection process where resource persons were engaged and we got 2915, 5% of which is earmarked for people with disability.”
He noted that the beauty of the programme further includes the fact that all Nigerians residing in Cross River State who applied are being considered and that information was sent out by the state’s office using various means which attracted the huge number of applicants, across the 18 local government areas in the state.
Agim commended the Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade for assisting the state office to ensure that many Nigerians within Cross River State benefits in the project.
In her contributions, Mrs. Heather Ronke Akanni, the National Women, Youth and Livelihood Specialist and the coordinator for the APPEALS –World Bank, told newsmen that the beneficiaries have been told that “we are not going to give physical cash to anybody. All we do is by way of input. Where they will get a service provider for every beneficiary and everything they need. The project pays for the training. Their transportation, accommodation and feeding.”
Another state official, Dr. Naomi Archibong disclosed that in each day of the six days interview, about 500 applicants were taken per day to cover the 2915 that were being considered.
One of the prospective beneficiary, Miss Immaculata David Ansa, after her interview session with the officials of the project disclosed that the officials were very friendly with them and that she applied for the poultry production value chain are her area of interest.
“The experience I will have from the programme will help me build up myself and eventually be in the position to put some other persons through,” she said.