FAO Impacts 2.8m Persons in North-east

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Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri

Not less than 2.8 million people have been impacted by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in the North-east.

FAO, in a new publication, said it has impacted over 400,000 households, with a household average at seven persons; about 2.8 million people have been given a lifeline in last three years.

The assisted families, according to the publication, were majorly from Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, states mostly by Boko Haram crisis.

The publication claimed that the assistance has allowed farmers to protect their livelihoods and restore agricultural production in order to cover their basic needs.

“Since 2017, FAO distributed more than 430,000 agricultural kits, comprising crop seeds − including, maize, sorghum, millet and cowpea − and fertiliser, to an estimated three million crisis-affected people in north-eastern Nigeria.

“With the support of the federal and state Ministries of Agriculture, as well as resource partners, FAO is now the largest non-governmental provider of livelihoods assistance for farming households in the area.

“In 2019, FAO plans to reach more than 150,000 households, just over a million people, with agricultural inputs and activities during the rainy and dry seasons,” said the publication.

FAO has reached more than 400,000 households since 2016 with a mix of agriculture support programmes, including crops, livestock, micro-gardening, safe access to energy, aquaculture, among others.

A recent field visit by our correspondent to areas assisted by FAO in Borno State showed that fishermen who had been idle due to the crisis had been productively engaged and had started making their own income.

FAO trained the beneficiaries on aquaculture, with each given inputs like fibre tanks, 500 fingerlings of fish and other aquaculture accessories.

Some of the beneficiaries, who spoke with THISDAY, stated that the intervention was a life-changing assistance for them.

One of them, Ibrahim Alkali said: “We have been idle since the crisis disrupted our fishing livelihoods. But now, we are making so much from fishing and the waste water from the tanks is used to water vegetable gardens to promote sustainable use of agriculture water.”

During the visit, it was discovered that FAO was also enabling beneficiaries to produce their own food by providing inputs for both rainy season and dry season farming.

A beneficiary, who harvested cowpea, explained that his hope of rebuilding his life has been renewed by the fact that he’s able to grow his own food.

Through its livestock restocking campaign, FAO has supported beneficiaries to rebuild the productive asset base. Livestock animals are considered valuable assets in Borno. Women get small ruminants like goat, and rams. As the animals reproduce, the herd increases, thereby building the women’s asset base.

Male beneficiaries, who were given bulls, sold and reinvested their earnings into starting their desired livelihood ventures like petty trading or livestock production.

FAO has also been assisting the people of Borno to succumb challenges in having access to energy. It has distributed fuel efficient stoves to vulnerable households to reduce the need to forage wood, which often comes with risks.

FAO has also established three fuel-efficient stove production centres in Jere, Konduga and MMC. The centres are run by the beneficiaries, who have been grouped into cooperatives. Their products are sold to development actors and community members.

FAO has also been supporting the enhancement of agriculture value chains in the state through the provision of capacity development to beneficiaries on agro-processing such as improved rice parboiling. Rice milling machines were installed in communities.

FAO is implementing its support in the state with resource from donors like the European Union, the German Government, the Norwegian government, USAID, the government of Sweden and others.