The World Foundation of the Deaf (WFD) has estimated that there are about 72 million deaf people in the world with a significant number of this is in developing countries. However, like in other countries, people with disabilities in Nigeria are believed to be incapable of farming. But this is changing with many of them running successful agro ventures.They are rising up to the challenge of increasing food production and attaining sustainable poverty reduction, DANIEL ESSIET reports.
When growing up, Mr Emmanuel Isado never let his deafness discourage him from achieving his goals in life.
As an adult, his hands serve not only as vital tools to communicate and connect with others, but also to work on the farm. He communicates via sign language as well as paper and pencil. This notwithstanding, today, he’s a full-time farmer. He is the owner of Isado Omro Ajai Ventures. What Isado wants people to know is that his deafness doesn’t affect his passion for farming.
Before now, he was a Senior Security Assistant with Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, Apapa, Lagos, where he worked for 28 years. He left to establish a business venture.
He started the project last year at Jakande Estate, Mile 2, Lagos to create employment for the deaf community. His ponds have 6000 fishes. Isado said some deaf people have farms but no one to assist them.
During the opening of some catfish ponds in Lagos, Isado said raising the awareness of deaf on farming, and empowering them to develop related activities was his major goal.
He noted that there were many farmers with disabilities that were ready to contribute to eliminating poverty, reducing malnutrition, and enhancing food security.
He indicated, however, that setting up viable ventures was one of the major challenges the deaf faces.
According to him, many deaf are reluctant to take up ventures because of the unfavourable environment.
He called on the Lagos government to ensure that farmers with disabilities were included in strategies and programmes for agriculture, food security and rural development.
But, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya, assured that the government was ready to work with the disabled to ensure that they received training in food security and competitiveness.
Represented by the Deputy Director, Fisheries, Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture, Olalekan ‘Uthman, the commissioner said the government had adopted a more inclusive empowerment to prepare residents for agriculture.
The goal of the various training provided by the ministry, she emphasised, were geared towards showing farmers and improved methods that can provide more value in yields.
She said the government would partner the disabled as a greater plan to lift smallholders out of poverty and contribute to zero hunger (SDG 2).
She reiterated that the government was determined to empower people living with disability in agriculture, urging them to form cooperatives to enable them from such programmes.
She said the disabled trainees would be exposed to agro-business, crop production, and animal husbandry, among others.
The Commissioner for Wealth Creation and Employment, Mrs Yetunde Arobieke, urged the disabled to explore opportunities provided by the ministry to embrace entrepreneurship and vocational skills, and contribute to the growth of the state.
Mrs. Arobieke said the informal sector remains the engine that drives development, adding that the government was designing a special programme for the disabled to enable them to participate in making and sustaining Lagos as a 21st Century economy.
The commissioner, represented by Mr Ogbodu Anthony Olatunde of the Department of Entrepreneurship, said the government has programmes for artisans and tradesmen, which the disabled could participate in as they would be exposed to various vocations and entrepreneurship skills at the centres, which are located in the six education districts of the state. The commissioner said the training of tradesmen and artisans was a demonstration of the government’s commitment to empowering residents.
The programme, according to her, has broaden the scope of the participants as it was designed to impact positively on their skillset and sharpen their entrepreneurial knowledge to provide a competitive advantage.
As a forward-looking state, she said the government would ensure that artisans and tradesmen incorporate technological innovation into their practice to stay in tune with emerging trends from around the world.
She reiterated that the government was providing financial support to small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) and artisans to enable them create good jobs and secure the long-term growth of the economy.