By Abimbola Akosile
Farmers supported by United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in North-east Nigeria are looking forward to a very good harvest, going by the amount and quality of crops some of them have so far gathered from their fields, THISDAY has learnt.
A Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at CBARDP (Community Based Agricultural and Rural Development Programme), FAO implementing partner in Borno State, Salisu Bukar Mohammed Ngulde, says: “Most of the crops are grown by women who make up 40 per cent of the project. They have already started harvesting their crops from the dry season interventions and have food for their families for some time to come while they sell part of their produce to make some money.
“They are now able to get income, save feeding costs and have surplus in the home to take care of other basic needs for a few months. FAO is collaborating with the governments of Belgium, Ireland and Japan to support these farmers.”
He described the intervention as very successful, hoping that more funds would be made available to take care of the larger number of internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees, female-headed households, youths and the host community who are in dire need of support, according to a release by the agency.
Mursi’s desire of returning to productive life was nurtured by FAO. His carrot plot is doing well, less than three months after he received seedlings and fertilisers support from FAO. He is also grateful to the Gongulong Bulamari people for accepting him and giving him access to a farmland where he hopes to eke out a living.
As part of its dry season interventions in support to IDPs, returnees and vulnerable host families in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, FAO provided farmers with capacity-building and skills, vegetable seeds, fertilisers and irrigation support for the dry season.
Mursi and another beneficiary Muktar are some of the farmers who embraced the project with great enthusiasm and less than two months into the programme, the enthusiasm has started paying off. The farmers, mostly youths and women, are already looking to a good harvest. The early signs of a potentially good harvest are evident by the crisps and fresh carrots, huge cabbages and other vegetables being gathered from the fields.
“FAO with partners’ support will provide the greatly desired livelihoods to IDPs, returnees and host communities where men, and especially women and youth, will be provided with food security, nutrition and livelihoods for both the dry and rainy seasons in the northeastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe on a sustainable basis to recovery from many years of hardship. We must all find durable and sustainable solutions and tackle the root courses of the crisis situation, especially that which affects livelihoods and incomes of the populations,” said Bukar Tijani, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa.
The acting FAO Representative to Nigeria, Nourou Macki Tall, said: “Supporting vulnerable host communities, displaced populations and returnees in northeast Nigeria to resume their agriculture activities pave the way to durable solutions. Agriculture cannot be an afterthought. This is the starting point for the implementation of longer-term activities that contribute to strengthening the population’s resilience.”
Meanwhile, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva will visit communities in Northeastern Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin to highlight the need to support local efforts to increase the resilience of people in rural areas whose agriculture-based livelihoods have been hit hard by recurrent crises in the region.
On April 7, in Maiduguri, Graziano da Silva will meet Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State, as well as the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh
He will be accompanied Bukar Tijani, FAO Assistant Director-General /Regional Representative for Africa, and Dominique Burgeon, Strategic Programme Leader-Resilience/Director, Emergencies and Rehabilitation Division.
In Northeastern Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin, violence has driven millions from their homes and hampered access to agricultural lands and assets, creating massive humanitarian needs in an area already struggling with food insecurity, poverty and environmental degradation. Host communities, in particular, have been struggling for several years now to feed the displaced as well as their own.