The launch of the dry season farming in the Northeast states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), appears to be the right step in supporting the populations in the northeast who are faced with a food crisis.To say it is timely is to say the least, given the urgent need by the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), returnees and host communities in the region to regain their livelihood.
FAO plan for the 2017/2018 dry season farming was to reach 117,000 farming families (representing 760,000 people) with seeds, rice and fertilizers, along with irrigation equipment, training and micro–gardening support to increase cultivation, reduce the impact of the food crisis and improve the nutrition of families facing severe hunger.
The campaign, implemented in partnership with the states was launched separately in the three states. FAO’s Representative to Nigeria, Mr. Suffyan Koroma who co-led the launch stressed that the organisation’s support to the populations in the northeast was aimed at helping affected communities to quickly meet their own food needs through their own production and ultimately contribute to building their resilience to future crisis.
He disclosed that during the 2017 raining reason FAO reached an estimated 971, 607 people with seeds and fertilizers, along with food assistance, adding that in Borno alone, 64,801 households (421,206 people) were reached with improved seeds of household staple crops including millet, maize, cowpea and sorghum.
In addition, women-headed households received seeds of vegetables kits, which included okra, sorel, roselle, and amaranthus.Koroma said each beneficiary household also received 25kg bag of NPK fertilizer, adding that the intervention boosted the household food security of multiple types of populations: the IDPs, returnees and host communities in Borno State and also facilitated livelihood generation by helping them process and sell their products to increase their household income levels.
Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima who applauded the importance of the Government-FAO-led interventions, noted that proactive measures must be taken to address the food situation to alleviate the devastating impact of violence on food security and food production.Shetima stressed: “Practical measures are necessary to support farmers before the next cropping season.”
To Modu Bemi, a farmer from Kataku community, Gujba council area of Yobe State, the intervention could not have come at a better time than now, especially for people like him who lost their belongings, including his son, to the insurgency that broke out in the state in 2014.
“I used to be a big-time farmer before the insurgency in the community. But when Boko Haram attacked us on June 29, 2014 they burnt down my house, killed my son, my vehicle was not left out, but with the return of peace to the area we had to come back home. I don’t pray my worst enemy experience what we went through. I used to have 15 hectares of land that I inherited from my father. I planted millet, sorghum, guinea seed from which I got 50bags of guinea corn, 11bags of cowpeas, and groundnuts, among others, but now, am still struggling to get better yields from my farm.
“But thanks to the FAO and the international community, with their interventions, normalcy has returned to the village and we are trying to get our livelihood back,” he said.
The FAO Deputy Representative, Nourou Marki-tall noted that the 50 per cent reduction in the food crisis in the northeast was mainly due to the food assistance being provided. He noted that the situation is still very fragile as people continue to rely on them for food assistance for their daily needs.
He said the organisation would continue to provide livestock, including poultry, and support for small-scale irrigation, adding that with increase-support from the European Union they would be able to increase their support to the IDP returnees and the host community.