By Bukar Bolori
About 100,000 families in the Northeast have had their vulnerabilities to food reduced with improved cultivation, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has said.
A publication by the organisation, said: “An estimated 99 400 FAO-supported households have entered 2020 less vulnerable, having cultivated and harvested staple crops such as maize and sorghum as well as vegetables like amaranthus.
“With the improved seed and NPK fertilizer distributed in the northeast states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY), the majority of supported households have generated an estimated six months’ worth of food, resulting in greater self-sufficiency, food security and income availability.”
It claimed that farmers who received training, seed and fertilizer from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) had significantly greater harvests than their peers as showed by the 2019 rainy season yield assessment.
The publication stated that: “After accounting for an average household size of seven, the FAO-supported beneficiaries were approximately 682 000 in number, with women-headed households constituting 35 percent of all beneficiaries. The FAO programme also had a significant impact on IDP and non- IDP households alike, with 28, 49 and 23 percent of households classified as returnee, host community and internally displaced, respectively. Adaptable, drought and disease resistant seeds were provided for cereals (maize, millet and sorghum), pulses (cowpea, groundnut and sesame) and vegetables (okra and amaranthus).
“To enrich the soil and yields, the Organisation also equipped each household with a 25 kg bag of NPK fertilizer. The seed and fertilizer, coupled with extension support, enabled beneficiary farms to yield more than other non-FAO supported farms using less productive varieties and production systems.”
The publication said across crop types and per hectare, FAO-supported farmers harvested an average of 22.66 tonnes, while non-FAO supported farmers produced an estimated 12.91 tonnes of the same crops and under similar production conditions.
It said these results underscore the urgent need to provide improved seed to households affected by the armed insurgency in the northeast, a region where nearly 2.6 million people reportedly experienced food insecurity between October and December 2019, according to the November 2019 Cadre Harmonisé report.
It further claimed that under the FAO seed and fertilizer assistance programme, sorghum production expanded, with FAO-supported farmers producing 1.23 tonnes on average, nearly twice the harvest produced by non-FAO supported farmers.
“The control group (non-FAO supported farmers) self-reported average harvests of approximately 0.75 tonnes per hectare. In the case of maize, farmers using inputs distributed by FAO produced an average of 2.80 tonnes per hectare compared to 2.35 tonnes per hectare harvested by non-FAO supported farmers. Okra production was also impressive with FAO-supported okra farmers recording an average of 7.42 tonnes per hectare, compared to the 4.38 tonnes produced by unsupported farmers. FAO’s beneficiaries also reported 6.5 tonnes per hectare of amaranthus, approximately 325 percent more than other farmers who yielded around 2 tonnes,” the publication further revealed.
‘The publication, quoting Suffyan Koroma, FAO Representative in Nigeria, said: “As women were the primary beneficiaries of okra and other vegetable seeds, the increased yield is expected to have had a remarkable impact on access to income from vegetable sales and we believe this has led to increased nutrition for women and their families.”
Koroma thanked FAO’s resource partners for the 2019 rainy season, including the European Union Trust Fund (EUTF) for Nigeria, the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the Governments of Norway and Germany.