BY DAVID ADUGE-ANI
DAVID ADUGE-ANI visits some of the communities in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, where the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) kick-started its “One Village, One Product” project five years ago. The project seeks to identify local produce or craft in which a community has a comparative advantage and leverage such a community to focus on its production as niche produce or product. He reports of happy beneficiary communities from a project that is grossly deficient in logistics and crawls at snail’s speed.
In 2012, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), through the Abuja Enterprise Agency (AEA) initiated a policy tagged “One Village, One Product” (OVOP) with the aim of empowering local communities in the area councils of the FCT by identifying local produce that are indigenous to these communities, and in which they have relative advantages and developing them into competitive and standard products.
In Nigeria, agriculture and agro-allied activities is known to provide about 70 per cent of the total jobs available. Despite the huge primary agricultural activities, Nigeria’s contribution to global value added product is negligible.
So many agricultural intervention programmes have been developed by the federal government over the years to solve the problems of agricultural development. Such programmes as Green Revolution, Operation Feed the Nation, and the National Directorate of Food, Road and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI), due to lack of sustainable plans, did not live up to their billings.
Nigeria more than ever before, now shows strong desires to diversify the economy from crude oil dependency. The Agriculture Transformation Action Plan (ATAP, launched in August, 2011) seeks to develop the value chain of many key commodities. This programme is captured in the Vision 2020 which is intended to make Nigeria one of the leading economies. Agriculture will play a vital role in the realization of Vision 2020.
The Federal Capital Territory (FCTA) through the Abuja Enterprise Agency (AEA) is contributing its quota in the development of the agriculture sector through its agricultural related projects. These agro-related projects are galvanized through the agency’s One-Village, One-Product (OVOP) initiative.
The One-Village, One-Product (OVOP) initiative is a strategy being adopted to bring about economic empowerment on a massive scale in communities by identifying local produce/products based on the principle of comparative advantage and develop them into competitive products that will be acceptable in the domestic and global market.
It was a movement that began in Oita Prefecture, Japan in 1979 when the then Governor, Morihiko Hiramatsu advocated the programme.
Team leader, rural community development (AEA), Safiya Umar told our correspondent that the whole essence is to see how the agency can assist communities within the FCT in establishing enterprises that will benefit them.
“Part of what we do is to go to a community to see what economic activity that is peculiar to that community and assist them to develop it.
What we do is that we will look at the total cost of establishing a project in the community and the agency will take the responsibility of 75 per cent of establishing such a project in the community. The essence of this is for the community to see the project as important,” she said.
Our correspondent gathered that these produce/products are identified through an outreach programme in all area councils of the FCT tagged ‘‘60 Communities in 6 Area Councils for 6 weeks.’’ OVOP strategy is targeting the six area councils of the FCT namely, Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Abaji, Kuje, Kwali, Bwari and Gwagwalada.
Though initiated way back 2012, the OVOP projects at the moment are being implemented only in four communities in the entire FCT. First in Nuku and Rimba communities in Abaji area council where shea butter is being produced in larger quantities. There is the mass production of garri in Chikuku community of Kwali area council, courtesy of the initiative, while efforts are being made to commence the production of fish in large scale in Guto community of Bwari area council.
Our reporter gathered that shea butter was selected for Nuku and Rimba communities based on the fact that there is a global
focus on shea butter at the moment; shea trees are found in abundance in Abaji. Shea butter naturally grows in the wild and is therefore an abundant resource whose potentials can be maximized.
Shea butter is an age-long product that has been used locally for food, skin care and general medication. It is therefore a readily available product especially in the rural communities; it has value in both local and international markets. Based on its uses and appeal, it is a leading export community in Africa.
The project which is ongoing in the two communities of Nuku and Rimba in Abaji area council has 165 women who have received quality improvement trainings and four cooperatives were formed as fallout of the group formation and organisation development trainings.
Umar told our correspondent that in 2008, there was a campaign by the AEA on entrepreneurship in all the six area councils of the FCT. “So when we got to this community (Nuku) we met some women pounding shea nuts with mortar. So that was how we took interest and then after that we discovered that they have shea nuts in abundance.
We noticed that the communities don’t produce shea butter due to lack of market. So we want to see how we can expand the market. Secondly, shea butter can stay for four to five years, but we noticed that they don’t have storage facilities.”
He explained that the agency has provided market linkage for the women in the cooperative, to promote the marketing of the shea butter products, adding that all users/dealers on shea butter products: cosmetics producers, shea butter exporters, hair dressers, and end users, can get natural shea butter in the FCT at Abuja Enterprise Agency (AEA).
Our correspondent learned from the chairlady of the shea butter cooperative society in Nuku Village, Mrs. Shinabazhi Geze that in the past the women used hands to grind shea butter nuts before processing them into butter. Geze however, stated that since a shea butter processing machine was installed in the area, the women have really improved their methods of producing the commodity.
“In the past, we were using our hands to grind the shea butter nuts, before processing them into butter. But we thank God that since AEA brought this machine our job has improved.
We have noticed that using the machine is the best because it consumes less time and you don’t need to pound the nuts with your hands. The machine has really improved the way we produce shea butter in the community and it has improved the economies of members of the cooperative.”
She, however, pointed out that the problem the women encounter is that the machine is inadequate for the number of people using it. “So we need a bigger machine that can serve us better. We are appealing that the agency provide bigger one for us.”
Umar further told our correspondent that the shea butter machines were provided by the agency in collaboration with a German corporation and the area council chairmen. She disclosed that the machines costs about N5 million in the three Abaji centres of Nuku, Rimba and Rubochi community in Kuje area council, where shea butter is processed.
Also as fallout of AEA rural outreach, cassava was selected for the OVOP phase II project among other produce. Kwali area council was chosen as the project location owing to the following reasons: that there are lots of cassava farmers in Kwali area council, especially in Chikuku community.
Many women who need empowerment are involved in the farming of cassava in these rural locations. There is global demand for cassava value chain products, both for domestic and industrial use, and Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava in the world with capacity for export.
The OVOP cassava project, according to the agency is expected to provide over 1,000 jobs in the FCT directly and indirectly, targeting mostly the rural populace.
The agency carried out a project kick-off sensitization outreach programme to the project community in Chikuku Village in Kwali area council, to sensitise the farmers on the entire project methodologies and how the processing centre would be operated.
A demonstration farm was also successfully established with improved cassava stems from International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, (IITA) with Specie TMS 30572. The demonstration farm is a one hectare farm and is intended to be used primarily to demonstrate various cassava production techniques.
In August, 2016 a functional Garri Processing Centre was set up successfully by the AEA. It is a two tons per hour capacity garri processing centre which is compartmentalised into different sections, the peeling area, the wet area and the dry area.
There is also a garri store, soak-away, and a local source for water supply. The members of the cooperative society were trained on how to process quality garri as well as on factory hygiene.
A member of the rural community development in AEA, Steven Orji told our correspondent that the Garri Processing Centre in Chikuku community was installed last year by the agency, while members of the cooperative in the area have been trained on how to operate the machine.
He disclosed that the cost of the machine including expenses is about N10 million, adding that the agency has spread the payment for the project by the farmers to a period of about 10 years and without any interest in the project.
Chairman of Cassava Farmers’ Cooperative in Chikuku, Mr. Samson T. Biko told our correspondent that in the past years, cassava farmers in the community do not have a good means of processing the cassava produce to value food that can be used by farmers’ families or be sold at the local markets. Biko, however, disclosed that all that have changed for the better following the installation of Garri Processing Centre in the community.
“In the past, our cassava farmers here don’t have processing machine, but when the AEA visited the community, I personally told them to provide us with a processing machine, because we have been wasting cassava.
But since they have brought this Garri Processing Machine, we are happy, because we have been processing garri here without problems. Even our neighboring villages are coming here to process garri and even from other area councils.”
He noted that the lives of the community members have changed with the installation of this garri processing machine. “In the past our children used to roam about and they were not attending any school due to lack of money, but all that have changed as our children now attend schools.
“Our parents are also benefiting from this project, because while other communities are complaining of hunger, we are not complaining of any hunger,” Biko said.
He, however, noted that the available machine is no longer enough to serve all the people bringing garri to the centre to process, and called on the agency to provide more.
“We also noticed that the machine is no longer enough to serve all the people bringing garri to the centre to process. So it is too small.
What it means is that we need more of such centres in our community so that we can produce enough garri, not only for the immediate communities, but also for the entire FCT markets. We are grateful to the agency for this initiative. May God bless them,” Biko said.
According to Umar “The agency is working in liaison with the cooperatives to set up sales outlets along Gwagwalada-Kwali Expressway to make the produce easily accessibility to the general public. Also, part of the upscale is for the agency to provide the farmers with storage facilities and by doing that they produce at any time of the year. And we noticed that the machine capacity is not big