The United Nations has launched a massive distribution of seedlings and farming tools to over 1.1 million persons affected by the Boko Haram crisis.
The distribution, which is handled by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, was launched in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital on Tuesday.
It is targeted at the internally displaced persons (IDPs), including returnee farmers and members of the host communities in the Boko Haram troubled North-east Nigeria, and it is part of the organisation’s 2018 rainy season input distribution to improve the agricultural production in the troubled region.
The FAO support, apart from the distribution of quality agricultural kits comprising seedlings such as millet, sorghum, cowpea, maize, vegetables and fertilizer, will also carry out critical capacity building for the farmers.
According to the FAO Representative in Nigeria, Mr. Suffyan Koroma, who spoke at the flag off of the 2018 rainy season distribution at the Farm Centre in Maiduguri, agriculture is the backbone of North-eastern Nigeria.
He said restoring normalcy in the region requires a restoration of agricultural livelihoods.
Koroma, who was represented by the Programme Officer and Head of Programme, FAO Sub-office Maiduguri, Mr. Michael Oyat, noted that the insurgency in North-eastern Nigeria has led to high levels of displacement.
He said: “Of all internally displaced people, 80 per cent identified agriculture as the main source of livelihoods before the crisis. A restoration of livelihoods, particularly in agriculture will be central for a full recovery in the region.
“FAO’s overall role in North-eastern Nigeria is simple – enhance food security through agricultural support, particularly to those most affected and vulnerable to shocks both in the external or the local contexts.
“As the main planting season, the rainy season is a major opportunity to strengthen livelihoods in the region. For farmers who are able to farm this season, FAO’s programme will link them to agricultural inputs that will improve their incomes and food insecurity.”
The Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, who was represented by his deputy, Alhaji Mamman Durkwa, during the flag off, commended FAO for its effort in tackling food security due to the strategic intervention on IDPs in the region.
He noted that the future of reconstruction, resettlement and rehabilitation is bright as humanitarian activities are been scaled up by both government and strategic partners like FAO as peace is gradually returning to the troubled communities.
He asked all stakeholders, including UN agencies not to relent in their collective effort to salvage the situation the insurgency has created in the overall interest of Borno State and the country at large.
He appealed to the benefiting farmers to make good use of the opportunity and rebuild their livelihood as they return to their communities.