As part of its efforts in promoting sustainable development in agricultural sector at the rural areas of Nigeria, the British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation, BATNF, flagged-off the cycle 2 of its BATNF-Ote Community Cassava Enterprise Value-chain Development Project and distributed required agricultural farm inputs to the beneficiaries on Friday, 10th July 2015. The event took place at the project farm, Ojutaye Village, Ote in Asa Local Government Area of Kwara State.
PHOTO CAPTION L-R: BATNF Communication and Event Manager, Tajudeen Akinwande; Ote Community Leader, Alhaji Abdulgafar Yahaya; BATNF Project Manager, Remi Adewole, a beneficiary, Mr. Ismaila Ajao; Chairman of the group, Alhaji Baba Seriki; Kwara State ADP Managing Director, Dr. S. Atanda and Alangwa of Ote, Alhaji Amuda Yusuf Abdul during the presentation of inputs to the farmers.
In his opening remarks, the Managing Director, Kwara State Agricultural Development Program, Dr. Sunday Atanda, thanked the Foundation for deeming it fit to support the small holder cassava farmers in Ote. He said that the project, which Kwara ADP is the implementing partner, is a collaborative effort in bringing much needed assistance to the 30 selected small holder cassava farmers in the community through land preparation, trainings, inputs distribution and market linkages, which is very critical to the sustainability of the project.
He enjoined the farmers to be committed to the project so as to have the desired results the Foundation is expected at the end of the season. “If we work hard and produce the expected tonnage per hectare. We have, with the support of BATNF, identified markets to sell your produce to. This will also encourage the Foundation to support other small holder farmers in another local government,” he added.
In her own remarks at the event, the Foundation’s General Manager, Abimbola Okoya, which was read on her behalf by the Foundation’s Project Manager, Remi Adewole, said that the gathering of the dignitaries, benefiting farmers and community at large confirmed the high importance attached to the project which demonstrates ways in which corporate bodies can support to improve the lives of small holder farmers through interventions of this nature.
Abimbola stated that the comparative advantage the Ote Community has in cultivation of cassava resulted in its intervention with the implementation of demonstration plot in 2014 with the 30 selected small holder cassava farmers for a 3-year intervention.
“What we are witnessing today is the flag-off of the cycle 2 of the project with the distribution of cassava farm inputs to the benefiting 30 small holder farmers for the cultivation of cassava on a one hectare farm land per farmer. The packages include farm inputs such as improved cassava stems, pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers, and pre, on and off seasons training on best agronomic practices, postharvest handling and marketing,” she said.
In his response, the chairman of the BATNF-Ote Community Cassava Farmers Group, Alhaji Baba Seriki, thanked the foundation for the immense support given to the farmers through the intervention. He said that the farmers, and indeed the community, are witnessing for the first time such unsolicited assistance from any corporate body. “Initially, we thought it is the usual visiting by the Kwara ADP when they came last year to inform us about the project but to our surprise, it just started and here we are,” he said.
He promised the foundation, on behalf of the farmers, to put all inputs and trainings to good use so as to have a very good story to tell at the end of the planting season.
The event, which was very unique because it took place right on the farm land, was witnessed by the management and staff of Kwara State ADP headed by the managing director, Dr. S. Atanda, community leaders, the press and the management of the foundation represented by Project Manager, Remi Adewole and Communication and Event Manager, Tajudeen Akinwande.