Michael Olugbode, in Maiduguri
The United Nations has launched a massive distribution of seedlings and farming tools to over 1.1 million persons affected by Boko Haram crisis in the North East.
The distribution, which is handled by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, was launched yesterday in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
It targets internally displaced persons (IDPs), including returnee farmers and members of the host communities in the Boko Haram troubled north-east.
The gesture is part of the organisationâ€™s 2018 rainy season efforts to improve the agricultural production in the troubled region.
According to the FAO Representative in Nigeria, Mr. Suffyan Koroma, who spoke at the flag-off of the 2018 rainy season distribution at the Farm Centre in Maiduguri, agriculture is the backbone of north-eastern Nigeria.
He said restoring normalcy in the region would require a restoration of agricultural livelihoods.
Koroma, who was represented by the Programme Officer and Head of Programme, FAO Sub-office Maiduguri, Mr. Michael Oyat, noted that the insurgency in northeastern Nigeria has led to high levels of displacement.
â€œOf all internally displaced people, 80 percent identified agriculture as the main sources of livelihoods before the crisis. A restoration of livelihoods, particularly in agriculture will be central for a full recovery in the region. FAOâ€™s overall role in northeastern Nigeria is simple â€“enhance food security through agricultural support, particularly to those most affected and vulnerable to shocks both in the external or the local contexts. As the main planting season, the rainy season is a major opportunity to strengthen livelihoods in the region. For farmers who are able to farm this season, FAOâ€™s programme will link them to agricultural inputs that will improve their incomes and food insecurity,â€ he explained.
The Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, who was represented by his Deputy, Alhaji Mamman Durkwa, commended FAO for their effort in tackling food security due to the strategic intervention on IDPs in the region.
He noted that the future of reconstruction, resettlement and rehabilitation is bright as humanitarian activities are being scaled up by both government and the strategic partners like FAO, as peace gradually returns to the troubled communities.
He asked all stakeholders, including UN agencies not to relent in their collective efforts to salvage the situation.
He appealed to the benefiting farmers to make good use of the opportunity and rebuild their livelihood as they return to their communities.