The Japanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Ryuichi Shoji, gave a combined grant of N36, 275,403.00, to two Non-Governmental Organisations under the Japan Official Development Assistance for grassroots human security projects and developments in Nigeria.
The groups that benefited are the African Women Agribusiness Network (AWAN) and Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) Resource Centre.
The money, according to the Envoy, would be specifically used for the construction of a Shea Butter processing centre in Gwagwalada Area Council in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and a fish feed processing mill in Epe Local Government Area of Lagos state.
At the presentation of the cheques ceremony to the National President of AWAN, Mrs. Yasmin Othman and the Chairman, HEDA Resource Centre, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, Shoji expressed the readiness of the Embassy to conclude the eight remaining grants contracts in education, agriculture and primary health by the end of the 2013 fiscal year, which ends in March next year.
According to him, the project was designed to address socio-economic problems that a community faces on daily basis and to bring about improvement in living standard that directly affected the people.
He added that the two projects would bring about positive impacts to the two communities while leading to the economic revitalisation of the entire environs.
He said: “The two projects have common features as they are both in the area of Nigeria’s core industry: agriculture and fishery. These projects aim at improving the lives of the people in the communities concerned by expanding their income sources through shea butter processing mechanism and cat fish feed production.”
The Envoy said that the Shea butter processing mill would employ 500 rural women in Kutunku area of FCT, stressing that women produce Shea butter from shea nuts using traditional manual methods at home.
“By constructing a Shea butter processing centre equipped with proper and modern processing machinery, the Embassy of Japan with the support of AWAN which has acquired expertise in Shea butter production, aims at increasing productivity of shea butter production, hence it will enhance the financial empowerment of the women concerned,” he said.
On the fish feed mill, he said: “The project was formulated to improve the current economic situation of fish farmers in Ebute Afuye community.” He added that fish farmers in the community had the knowledge and materials for aquaculture. Shoji said: “The Embassy through HEDA Resource Centre, who has good knowledge of the community situation and aquaculture, will construct a fish feed processing mill with necessary machines.”
In a remark, Othman, while expressing appreciation to the Japanese government, said the intervention through the scheme was coming at such a timely period adding that the processing of Shea butter method in Nigeria was done using traditional and laborious methods which leads to low quality.
“History will be made in the benefitting community and the surrounding villages by this project. A modern facility with medium scale equipment, clean water and a standby generator would be installed by the grant.” This according to her means more revenue to the rural women government and jobs for the teeming youths.”