The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is planning to assist more than one million farmers in the Northeast of Nigeria to grow between six and eight months’ worth of food in the 2018 rainy season.
Suffyan Koroma, the FAO representative in Nigeria at the launch of the organisation’s rainy season programme on Wednesday said an estimated 149, 730 households are expected to benefit from the programme whose overall objective is to ensure restoration of livelihood, through agriculture.
He said the launch has become imperative as the long-awaited seasonal rains have begun making way through the Northeastern region, where millions of farmers were eagerly anticipating the chance to break ground.
The rainy season, occurring once a year typically stretches from May to September and remains the main planting season for small holder farmers, the majority of whom depend on rain-fed agriculture.
“In the 2018 rainy season, FAO and its partners have targeted about 149, 730 farming households for crucial distributions of seed and fertiliser in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states. In total, FAO estimates that more than one million people in these states will have enough food to last between six and eight months with the inputs provided, given normal seasonal conditions,” he said.
FAO will be using a kit system comprising crop seed varieties appropriate for the agro-ecological zones of the Northeast.
In kit one, he explained that farmers can choose between millet, maize or sorghum seed, given with a 25 kilogramme bag of fertiliser; women farmers will be offered seed for nutritionally beneficial vegetables like amaranthus and okra in kit two while kit three includes seed for groundnut or sesame to be distributed only to women.
According to the FAO representative, the selection of recipients was based on their safe access to land for agriculture, ability to farm in the season and the scale of their need or vulnerability to receive agricultural inputs in the 2018 rainy season.
He noted that FAO was working jointly with the World Food Programme (WFP) to distribute agricultural inputs alongside food aid, to avert the risk of households employing negative coping practices such as consuming or selling the seeds and fertiliser received.
The worst-affected Borno households, he said, would receive inputs provided through funding from the European Commission, the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), the Governments of Belgium and Norway and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).
Koroma disclosed that due to the alarming humanitarian needs faced by agriculture-based households in the northeast, an estimated 2.9 million people would face heightened food insecurity between May and September.
As a result, he said FAO has requested $31.5 million dollars in its 2018 appeal for the country and so far, $13.2 million has been mobilised.