Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has moved to improve the nutrition and combat diseases in the internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps in the North-east.
The UN agency, in a programme supported by the Government of Switzerland through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation yesterday distributed nine fresh foods and protein rich foods to about 2,000 households in Borno State, the epicentre of Boko Haram crisis.
A statement by FAO said: “Beneficiaries were registered electronically and received voucher cards that they later redeemed for fresh foods.”
The statement noted that: “Through these distributions, FAO provides a market for smallholders, especially for producers of fresh foods that typically face high perishability and unstable prices. Some of the food items were purchased directly from locations like the vast Gamboru produce market in Maiduguri, with a state food safety team monitoring the quality of the purchases at point of sale and during the distributions.”
The statement quoted Ahmed Mohammed who sells produce in Gamboru Market, saying: “I am very happy my cabbage is going towards the nutrition of the IDPs,” revealing that he sourced his cabbage from FAO-assisted dry season farmers in Konduga, a Borno State Local Government Area.
The statement also quoted Suffyan Koroma, FAO Representative in Nigeria, as saying: “FAO is using the fresh food voucher approach to boost access to nutritious and diversified food items to IDPs, while providing a platform for our dry season supported farmers to sell their harvests.”
He said: “Our fresh food distribution is also promoting smallholder market participation as we have focused on crops traditionally farmed within local communities.”
Koroma disclosed that during the dry season, FAO supported farmers received fertiliser and vegetable seed including okra, amaranthus, cabbage, tomato, carrot and onion.
He added that in areas suitable for production, farmers also received rice and maize seed.
He said: ”In total, about 62,000 dry season beneficiary households, translating to close to 430,000 people, had their incomes or food and nutrition security supported. Dry season harvests are expected to be continue to June, 2019 in some communities.”
He revealed that in the forthcoming rainy season, FAO aimed to assist about 92,000 households with crop seed and fertiliser delivered through direct distributions, as well as seed fairs where farmers could make their ‘seed of choice’ from FAO-supported vendors.