Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Home Grown Sch Feeding Programme has positive ripple effect —SA Gabriel Okulaja


Special Adviser Gabriel Okulaja while briefing the press recently in Calabar 
Efio-Ita Nyok|20 February 2018 

The Cross River state Special Adviser to the Federal Government sponsored Home Grown School Feeding Programme, Mr Gabriel Okulaja, has asserted that the ongoing school feeding programme has positive ripple effects both in the state and the country at large NegroidHaven can report authoritatively.

SA Aja made this known to newsmen recently when he granted a media parley with designated media houses. Aja who is a seasoned administrator and management expert hinged the positive effects on an element of the primary objectives of the Programme which is to 'increase the agriculture value chain, improving the economies of the local community' particularly in respect of agriculture, entrepreneurship and employment. Aja also stressed that the public should look beyond the N70 meal budget for a child to variegated opportunities the Programme promises. It was in view of this that he made reference to what he referred to as Out-grower Programme which enhances the growth and sustainability of the Food Programme. 

His words, 'The N70 in the first place is small. Even the cook hardly benefits from the N70 budget. So, we have to look beyond that. It is in looking beyond that, that we've been able to develop a few things; few things like the Out-grower Programme which we believe can grow benefits for stakeholders.

'We have developed a value addition to our program and promoting 'outgrowers schemes' to grow opportunities in the programme, and one of it is the ongoing partnership with Akwa Prime Poultry and Hatchery Ltd to promote an out grower scheme within 5 locations in CRS to warehouse about 100,000 birds by July, 2018. Already, about 30,000 birds are ready to be moved into the first location and this will continue as we get locations ready'.

Aja added that his office is sorting ways to improve the availability of income to the purse of stakeholders. He noted that it is the part of the scheme for the state governments to supplement the Programme. According to him, 'On the N70 per meal which the federal government is providing, we are looking at how we look beyond that and provide value added initiatives to increase vendor/stakeholders incomes and address their concerns of the reward to them. We believe in doing this, income available will increase and enhance the purse of stakeholders.

'On the call for an increase in the funding rate of N70, The federal government expects states to supplement as a responsibility to its citizens. Also, is the responsibility of state's on the program to provide the local enabling environment, personnel, offices, logistics, monitoring and evaluation for effective program implementation.

The Special Adviser also talked about addressing smart dealings by vendors in respect of delivering the services of the Programme. 

'On the issue of directing debits to vendor accounts, this is not possible as payments to accounts are direct from NIBBS and the contract with the banks does not permit that deductions can be authorized by me. However, where there is an element of suspicious activities by any vendor, I can authorize the bank to freeze such account, pending a resolution of the issues.

'Also, for efficient management of funds utilization to the program, monies are released in tranches to accommodate our delivery schedule and mostly against a 10 day cycle and this we try to maintain with the bank.

Speaking earlier about the value chain Aja said in the implementation chain, the programme envisages that we take from the ground to the consumer. So the end person there is either the child or the person who would necessarily buys food from the ground. And in so doing, it envisages that the complete value chain of food processing is harnessed : you plant, dig, process, convert to other uses, enhance, preserve, sell and cook. 

Primary objectives of this programme is to reduce the 15 million out-of-school Nigerian children to zero, increase nutritional nourish of school children between 1 to 3 of age, to increase school enrollment and increase agricultural value chain thereby improving the economies of the local community. 

In Cross River state, the figures of the school children affected and the vendors engaged has increased to 168,069 pupils and 1963 vendors for this second term from last year's first term figures of 117,775 kids and 1358 vendors as at December 2017. The Programme commenced officially in the state on September 2017 sequel to its enrollment on September of the same year.



Efio-Ita Nyok
Is a Blogger, the Blogger-in-Chief & Publisher of NegroidHaven 



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