THE United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Feed the Future Nigeria Rural Resilience Activity which is implemented by Mercy Corps Nigeria, has donated agricultural equipment to five women-owned cowpea processors from Bida, Bosso, and Chachanga local government areas of Niger State.
No fewer than 3,565 smallholder farmers and MSMEs received N78, 000 each under the programme.
The equipment distributed includes hammer mills, dehydrators, de-stoners, threshers, and power generating sets.
Country Director, Mercy Corps Nigeria, Mr Ndubisi Anyanwu said that the programme is meant to improve households’ nutrition and food security, improve women’s productivity and competitiveness in agribusiness, and strengthen the productivity of producers organisations.
“They are expected to improve the production capacity of the women-owned cowpea processors by 40 per cent. The Rural Resilience Activity understands that the challenges of access and agency for women and youth in Nigeria, exacerbated by conflict, high levels of insecurity, and health shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic, inhibit their participation in the productive sphere, particularly their entry into the market systems as producers and entrepreneurs,” she said.
Anyanwu said the cowpea processing equipment was distributed to 40 women-owned small and medium enterprises in Kebbi, Niger, Ebonyi, Benue, Borno, Yobe, Maiduguri, Adamawa, Gombe and the FCT.
“The equipment, worth N91.3 million was donated under the COVID-19 Mitigation Response programme while an additional 15 million dollars fund was awarded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to the Feed the Future Nigeria Rural Resilience Activity to deliver well-targeted cash and capital support to participants in targeted communities to prevent further backsliding and economic devastation due to the secondary impacts of COVID-19 shocks and stresses.”
The Country Director stated that the programme aligns with and reinforces the Rural Resilience Activity’s approach to Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE).
He added that through the COVID-19 Mitigation Response programme, cash transfers have been made to 51,727 participants, including smallholder farmers, livestock producers, members of agricultural cooperatives and 4,321 micro-enterprise owners.
The Chief of Party, Rural Resilience Activity, Mrs Margarita Aswani stated that the programme, in the long-term, will ensure that the women processors produce high quality processed cowpea products and extend their market reach, become more competitive and increase their productivity.
“This is part of Mercy Corps Nigeria’s approach for sustainability, ensuring linkages between the Rural Resilience Activity’s Market Systems Approach and the COVID-19 Mitigation Response programme,” she said.
One of the beneficiaries from Bida Local Government Area, Ashetu Musa said the hammer mills will help increase the capacity of her far m produce, expressing her optimism that she will make a profit from it.