The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations said it planned to install 100 Farmer Field School communities in 2018 in the North-East to boost agricultural production.
The UN agency also said it urgently needed about $18m to meet the needs of agro-based households in the crisis-ridden northeast.
In a statement on Thursday, the FAO revealed that it had so far trained 51 agricultural experts in the FFS approach in the North-East.
The FAO said, “In July and August 2018, an additional 26 experts across the three North-East states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe were trained in the FAO’s landmark programme for boosting pro-poor and participatory agricultural extension support worldwide.”
It added, “Following the training of an initial batch of 25 agricultural officers from government agricultural agencies and non-governmental organisations and the establishment of Farmer Field School community groups, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations graduated its second batch of the FFS facilitators on 18th August, 2018 in Maiduguri, Borno.
“The three-week long intensive workshop equipped experts supporting conflict-affected farmers in the North-East with the skills to set up and run at least two farmer field schools per facilitator.”
It also said, “The FFS is an interactive and participatory ‘learning by doing’ approach involving groups of 20-25 farmers, pastoralists or fisher folk and a trained facilitator. Group members experiment with best practices while discussing challenges and solutions to agriculture-related issues in their own local context. The FFS is usually comprised of resource-poor participants who typically face limited access to education, information, extension (for example, farming and pastoral advice) services, market access and financial capital.”
The release quoted the FAO representative in Nigeria, Suffyan Koroma, as saying that the FFS is another entry point for the FAO to support the most at-risk farming households in the region, and that the “UN agency plans to install, with regional partners, at least 100 of these schools in 2018.”
Koroma said, “Smallholder farmers face huge hurdles in managing increasingly complex agro-ecosystems. Through FFS, farmers will learn how to create sustainable solutions to farming and pastoral issues.”
He also said, “The FAO’s work in the North-East goes far beyond the provision of livelihood-saving agro-inputs like seed and fertilizer, and that “the FAO works closely with farmers to ensure that inputs they receive are being properly utilised; that they are employing the most effective techniques in the management of their crops and animals. And that generally, farming households have the best conditions to boost their resilience.”
The release recalled that the “FAO’s ongoing rainy season programme delivered seed and fertiliser to about 100,000 households as of July. Crop and livestock production is expected to rise with the increased access to farmland in newly accessible areas in the region.
“However, access to land remains a key issue as numerous communities are restricted to only small parcels of land for production and cannot use traditional growing and grazing areas due to lingering security risks. In the North-East Nigeria, farmers often rely on sharecropping (planting on land belonging to others in exchange for a portion of harvests) or rent less than one hectare of land for subsistence agriculture.”
It stated that the June 2018 Displacement Tracking Matrix revealed that about 1,549,630 people had been returned to their original communities in the region and that returnees, host communities and internally displaced people required urgent support to resume their livelihoods; 80 per cent of which was estimated to be agriculture-based.