Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has said it plans to install 100 Farmer Field School (FFS) communities in 2018 in the North-east region to boost agricultural production.
Even as the UN agency said it urgently need about $18 million to meet the needs of agro-based households in the crisis-ridden Northeast.
In a statement issued yesterday, FAO revealed that it has so far trained 51 agricultural experts in the FFS approach in North-eastern Nigeria.
FAO said: “In July and August 2018, an additional 26 experts across the three Northeastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe were trained in FAO’s landmark programme for boosting pro-poor and participatory agricultural extension support worldwide.
“Following the training of an initial batch of 25 agricultural officers from government agricultural agencies and non-governmental organisations and the establishment of Farmer Field School (FFS) community groups, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) graduated its second batch of FFS facilitators on August 18, 2018 in Maiduguri, Borno State.
“The three week long intensive workshop equipped experts supporting conflict-affected farmers in the Northeast with the skills to set up and run at least two farmer field schools per facilitator.”
It added that: “FFSs are an interactive and participatory ‘learning by doing’ approach involving groups of 20 to 25 farmers, pastoralists or fisher folk and a trained facilitator. Group members experiment with best practices while discussing challenges and solutions to agriculture-related issues in their own local context. FFSs are usually comprised of resource-poor participants who typically face limited access to education, information, extension (e.g. farming and pastoral advice) services, market access and financial capital.”
The statement quoted FAO Representative in Nigeria, Suffyan Koroma, as saying that the FFSs are another entry point for FAO to support the most at-risk farming households in the Northeast, and that the “UN agency plans to install, with regional partners, at least 100 of these schools in 2018.”
Koroma said: “Small holder farmers face huge hurdles in managing increasingly complex agro- ecosystems. Through FFSs, farmers will learn how to create sustainable solutions to farming and pastoral issues.”