By Adelola Amihere
As part of its 2018 rainy season programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has distributed free seeds among 630 farmers in Tikau, a large ward in the Nangere local government area of Yobe State.
In a press release made available to The AUTHORITY, a total of 630 farmers consisting of 400 cereal farmers, 130 groundnut farmers and 100 vegetable farmers – had the freedom to select improved drought-tolerant and disease-resistant varieties of their preferred seed during its first seed fair in northeastern Nigeria which held on recently.
The Farmers were selected on the basis of their need for inputs, access to land and ability to farm during the rainy season.
FAO provided them with vouchers to redeem seed for staple crops like millet, sorghum and cowpea as well as high-value cash crops like groundnut. Farmers could choose between millet and sorghum which they could combine with other seed.
Farmers also received a 25-kg bag of fertilizer to improve productivity in the ensuing months. The vouchers were made possible through funding by the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, the Government of Norway and the United States Agency of International Development.
According to the latest Cadre Harmonisé, 2.9 million people in northeastern Nigeria are expected to be food insecure in the three states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe during the 2018 lean season (June-August 2018).
While speaking during the fair, Suffyan Koroma, FAO Representative for Nigeria said the organization was committed to expanding farmer choice as much as possible even in the context of emergency response.
“More often than not, farmers know what is best for them. Our organization takes a ‘bottom up’ approach which acknowledges the farmer’s experiences and skills while providing them with greater access to resources like improved drought- and disease-resistant varieties of seed, appropriate technologies and livelihoods diversification in the agriculture sector”, he said.
To support households recovering from the impact of the Boko Haram insurgency in 2018, FAO is appealing for USD 31.5 million, of which USD 10.4 million was mobilized so far.