Creating sustainable work opportunities for refugees

Many refugees in the North have farming backgrounds and still strongly identify with their farming roots. In recognition of this, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), in partnership with other organisations, is investing in refugees’ livelihoods, by boosting their participation in food production through agricultural activities.

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is partnering with FAO in this regard.  Participants receive support in form of seeds, tools and training.

During the supply of agricultural input to farmers in Damboa Local Government Area of Borno State, through FAO’s intervention,   ADRA Country Director, Nigeria, Mr. Fredrick Omosebi, said the partnership was designed to support Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and host communities with input to improve food security in the Northeast where Boko Haram insurgency has disrupted farming.

In response to the food crisis, FAO, through ADRA, is implementing an extensive rain season agriculture programme by providing quality input to 4,600 targeted households in Damboa Central, Kachallabulari, Nzuda Wuyaram, NzuMairi and Gumsuri Local Government areas in Borno State.

Omosebi said the beneficiaries were IDPs, returnees and host communities while the input were millet, sorghum and maize seeds, among others.

Others were cowpea, groundnut, sesame and vegetable seeds, such as amaranths and okra. The preference of the beneficiaries and the agro – ecological zone were taken into consideration in the distribution of the inputs.

Apart from these, beneficiaries  were provided  fertiliser and trained on good farming practices under  FAO’s farmer field schools established in Kachallabulari and Abori IDP camp in Damboa. A total of 60 farmers participated in the farmer field schools.

Omosebi, however, said insecurity  is a big challenge, adding that IDPs, returnees and host communities  were  able to cultivate crops on farm land in towns where there is Nigerian Army presence to ensure  security and safe access to farm land.

He said: “Crops, such as millet and sorghum, because of their height, are not allowed to be grown in some locations for security reasons while transportation of fertiliser is restricted in many parts of Northern Borno. Fertiliser can be transported by getting special clearance from the military. As the security situation continues, further action to improve food security of the most vulnerable households will be taken.”

The traditional leader, Nzuda Wuyaram, one of the communities in Damboa Local Government Area, Malam Lawan Shettima, said FAO has played a vital role in alleviating the food and nutritional challenges faced by the people of the community. He said about 60 per cent of the population, including women, benefited from the intervention.

He expressed appreciation to FAO for not just giving them the seeds, but also for the timeliness of the intervention and extra effort on best farming practices and fertiliser application and other relevant extension services.

A beneficiary, Alhaji Lawal Isa, in General Hospital IDP Camp in Damboa Central, said before the FAO intervention, his family planted only vegetables, which earned only N15,000 which was not enough to take care of them. But with the intervention, he  got farm inputs and fertiliser.

Last year, he harvested 125kg of cowpeas, 150kg of onions, 150kg of sorghum and 250kg of maize. This year, he is expecting at least 700kg of maize, 500kg of cowpea, 600kg of sorghum and 300kg of groundnut.


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