The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has convened a technical knowledge fair for stakeholders in agriculture sector in the North East to boost agricultural growth in the troubled region.
A statement from the UN Agency on Monday said is aimed at enhancing extension service delivery in the northeast and boost the promotion of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and nutrition-sensitive agriculture.
The fair which commenced on Monday May 6 ends on Wednesday May 8 and brings agriculture sector experts across local institutions in the region, including the agricultural development programmes (ADPs), local NGOs and academic institutions.
The statement said through interactive ‘classroom sessions’ extension agents will be trained on improved agricultural practices for cereals, pulses and vegetables, with the trainings conducted jointly with The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and The University of Maiduguri.
The statement further said: “The technical knowledge share fair will also introduce participants to the nutrition-sensitive agriculture approach which examines the ways through which agriculture can improve nutrition outcomes.”
The statement quoted, the Deputy FAO Representative in Nigeria, Nourou Tall, saying during the opening ceremony of the fair, that state and LGA level-institutions are yet to be fully operational and require urgent support to meet the massive needs of vulnerable farmers.
He said: “With the improved security situation in some areas, 2017 to 2019 are touchstone years for farmers across the region. Many resumed cultivation after seven to ten years of no production and are returning to the sector with little knowledge of improved practices.’
Tall further stressed that FAO would continue to meet the needs of vulnerable farming communities through the farmer field school and group savings and loan association approaches which have provided close to 2,000 households with training on good agricultural practices and business development.
The statement revealed that in the forthcoming rainy season, FAO aims to assist about 92,000 households with crop seed and fertilizer delivered through direct distributions, as well as seed fairs where farmers can make their ‘seed of choice’ from FAO-supported seed vendors. May’s knowledge share fair will also discuss ways to improve the targeting of beneficiaries for agricultural livelihood assistance.
The statement however lamented that with the agricultural institutions and systems in northeast Nigeria have been disrupted by a decade of conflict.
It said: “Across Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, the armed insurgency has affected agriculture extension and advisory services delivery to smallholder producers, resulting in the widening of the knowledge and skills gaps and impeding smallholder production.
“According to projections of the latest Cadre Harmonize, 2.7 million people will be severely food insecure (Phase 3-5) in August 2019 if humanitarian support is not sustained. In 2019, FAO aims to reach 1.3 million farmers with livelihood support and has appealed for USD 32.4 million, about 3.6 million of which has been mobilized.”