The British American Tobacco Nigeria (BATN) Foundation has built and handed over a N7 million palm oil processing mill to Mfonabasi Women Multipurpose Co-operative Society, Ekpenyong Ufum, in Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, as part of efforts to support small-holder farmers in the country.
In addition, the foundation has also provided the community with a bore-hole of a 5,000-litre water storage tank to ensure adequate water supply for processing activities at the palm oil mill and for sundry domestic use by members of the community.
Handing over the facilities to the community, Gbenga Ibikunle, executive director of the foundation, said the donation was the second of such projects undertaken by the foundation in the state and the sixth in the South-South zone of the country.
Ibikunle, who noted that the palm oil processing mill would help in reducing agricultural produce waste and drudgery in produce processing, hoped that it would engender higher productivity and boost high product quality, income and better livelihood for members of the co-operative society.
“Our vision is to empower rural Nigeria for a sustainable future through strategic intervention in agriculture, supporting small-holder farmers to adopt more productive ways of managing and earning livelihoods from natural resources in a sustainable manner,’’ he said.
He lauded the World Bank assisted Fadama 111 project in Akwa Ibom State for the choice of the community, he said was arrived at after a series of dialogue sessions, and urged members of the co-operative society to “take very good care of these facilities that are being handed over to you today so as to achieve the desired economic and social improvement in a most sustainable manner.’’
Receiving the facilities, Helen Inyang, president of the co-operative society, praised the BATN foundation for selecting the group as a beneficiary of the project, hoping that it would transform the lives of the people of the community.
According to her, the facility will help to increase agricultural output and profit margin, and in the long run raise the standard of living of the people, describing the project as a dream come true.