By Dipo Olowookere
The National Social Investments Office (NSIO) has highlighted the achievements and critical areas of the economy the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) has positively impacted on, since its launch in 2016.
The NSIO explained that the school feeding initiative has been driving financial inclusion and reducing poverty while boosting the prosperity of the cooks by providing them access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs.
Special Adviser on Social Investments to the President, Mrs Maryam Uwais has said that in addition to the over nine million pupils in classes 1 to 3 currently benefitting from the programme in 26 States, almost 97,000 community women have been engaged and trained to prepare locally grown food and serve local delicacies to primary beneficiaries of the programme in almost 50,000 public primary schools nationwide.
In a document entitled ‘Progress on the NGHSFP’, released by the NSIO, the Federal Government highlighted the achievements and critical areas of the economy the National Home- Grown School Feeding Programme has positively touched.
It explained that it has been driving financial inclusion and reducing poverty while boosting the prosperity of the cooks by providing them access “to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs”.
It added that “more than 100,000 smallholder farmers and youth are engaged in the overall value chain of National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme; from production to processing, aggregation, packaging to distribution across different States in Nigeria.”
The document also noted that apart from increasing school enrolment and creating jobs, the feeding programme has helped to improve fish farming and poultry business further, in addition to making a significant investment in the beef industry.
It disclosed that the FG has invested over N253million to provide the fish consumed weekly in all the 26 States in collaboration with fish farmers cooperatives, as well as the Association of Aquaculture Farmers and Agro Processors of Nigeria.
“This helps to improve the livelihood of 2,716 fish out-growers for mass fish production in these States. Each week, these fish out growers produce approximately 83 metric tons (over N92million) of fish for the programme. In tandem w ith this, 1164 factory workers are involved in the fish processing. In the first year, the Agro Processors generated a profit of N2.5 million.
The document also highlighted its effect on the poultry and livestock sectors, explaining that 138,000 birds and 6,800,000 eggs worth N201 million and N204million respectively are purchased weekly from members of the Poultry Association of Nigeria in the various States.
It added that, “the Meat Sellers/Butchers Association in Nigeria supply an estimated 594 cattle from various local abattoirs across the country to support the programme. This is valued at over N570million per annum, thereby enhancing their production scale and profitability.”
Highlighting the programme’s impact on youth empowerment and food production, the document disclosed that, “over 500,000 young adults are engaged on the programme to support (through teaching assistant jobs in schools) directly, extension officers in agriculture, as well as health services within the community, having each received training and technology-enhanced devices (loaded with relevant modules) worth N100, 000 from the N-Power programme. Most of these youth serve as intermediaries between the small farmers and cooks, including teachers in the public primary schools where feeding is taking place.”
“The Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) of the Central Bank of Nigeria under the Buhari-led Administration has made available N82billion in funding to 350,000 farmers of rice, wheat, maize, cotton, cassava, poultry, soybeans and groundnut; who have cultivated about 400,000 hectares of land. Over 350,000 farmers in orange-fleshed sweet potato, poultry, rice, groundnut and soybean have been supported with funding for planting material and fertilizer to increase production.”
Contrary to what some might believe, the FG affirmed that its investment into the school feeding programme is proving to be cost-effective, sustainable and an example to be emulated by other countries.
“Not only does it produce mutually reinforcing outcomes, it also serves as a strong, sustainable economic model. Farmers are able to increase their production capacity and income through a structured and predictable market. Additionally, women and youth are economically empowered through their participation in the food supply chain.
The evidence for the positive impact of school feeding programmes on the education, health and the economy of the beneficiary communities is clear. The example of Nigeria’s school Feeding Programme provides an inspiration to other countries looking to develop their own sustainable school feeding programmes.”
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