In its efforts to support livelihoods of Smallholder farmers in Lagos State, the British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation (BATN Foundation) in partnership with the Lagos State Agricultural Development Authority (LSADA) has donated 20 fifty-kilogramme smoking kilns to beneficiary farmers and agribusinesses.
With the support of the BATN Foundation, the Lagos State Agricultural Development Authority also facilitated several weeks of intensive capacity building and established four demonstration sites for practical training for over 200 beneficiaries cutting across agricultural zones (Agege, Ojo, Ikorodu and Ibeju-Lekki) in Lagos State.
The initiative is programmed to enhance the productivity of the farmers and equip them to successfully overcome the challenges prevalent in the aquaculture industry.
The handing over ceremony of the smoking kilns to the beneficiary, held at LSADA office, Oko-Oba Agege, had in attendance government officials, fish farmers’ groups and cooperative societies across the state.
A beneficiary of the initiative, Elizabeth Tagbenu, said participating in the training has provided her new knowledge and real-life scenarios to increase her output. She also mentioned how the smoking kiln donation will help her business and boost her productivity.
The partnership which commenced in 2018 aims at building the capacity of fish farmers under the Fingerlings to Fork Project and the donation of smoking kilns is part of the Foundation’s effort to prevent post-harvest loss and support the socio-economic development of smallholder farmers in the state.
Speaking at the handing over ceremony, General Manager of BATN Foundation, Oludare Odusanya, said the Foundation’s long-standing assistance to farmers has revealed the importance of not only imparting optimal agricultural practices for enhanced fish production but also ensuring market access and empowering them to enhance the value of their commodities. This approach, according to him, is essential for building resilience against price volatility.
“In our long-term work to support farmers, we have seen that beyond simply imparting best practices for enhancing fish yield, it is critical to give them market access and give them the tools they need to add value to their product and withstand fluctuations in prices,” he said.
In her keynote address, Lagos State Commissioner of Agriculture, Ms. Ruth Abisola Olusanya, who was represented by the Director, Agribusiness, Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture, Mrs. Aramide Gansallo, encouraged the fish farmers benefiting from the initiative to maximize this opportunity for successful fish processing in the State.
She stressed that the project plays a pivotal role in supporting the Lagos State government’s on-going agricultural policy to guarantee food sufficiency and security across significant agricultural value chains.
Encouraged by the success recorded so far by the initiative, she urged other corporate organisations and Foundations to collaborate with the state in its pursuit of sustainable food security, mirroring the exemplary efforts of the BATN Foundation.
Another beneficiary, Mr. Abdullateef Adekunle, expressed his heart-felt gratitude to the BATN Foundation for providing him with the smoking kiln saying this invaluable support would not only enhance his business but would also open new avenues for growth.
“With this equipment, I can now process and preserve my fish more efficiently, ensuring better market opportunities and increased income for my family,” he said.
The BATN Foundation since its inception in 2002 has supported the Federal and State Governments in agricultural development programmes and has invested over N2 billion in supporting rural smallholder farmers. The Foundation has lifted over 1.3 million beneficiaries and it is projecting to double the figure in the next 10 years through increased support for smallholder farmers in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.