Building the future resilience of communities in northeast Nigeria depends heavily on food security

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Building the future resilience of communities in northeast Nigeria depends heavily on food security

Source: AUN News

In northeast Nigeria, agriculture is the primary source of employment and income for most of the population. However, the ongoing hostilities have severely hampered farming operations, making farmlands unsafe and inaccessible as families are compelled to leave their ancestral homes. Along with insecurity, communities also feel the effects of climate change, which has substantially impacted fishing and farming. This has resulted in a scarcity of food sources, which hastens hunger and the loss of livelihood.

After being freed of insurgents, the border town of Ngala in Borno State, which was established in 1976 and is located between northeastern Nigeria and Fotokol, Cameroon, is one of the communities in northeast Nigeria targeted by interventions under the Regional Stabilization Facility (RSF) phase two for the Lake Chad Basin region. Agriculture and other socioeconomic activities are beginning as the relocation process continues. Despite its difficulties, Ngala has excellent potential for developing its agriculture and cattle industry. In addition to farming, the community’s proximity to the River Ngadda, which empties into Lake Chad, has encouraged some residents to add fishing as a secondary source of income.

Reduced production brought on by unpredictable weather patterns is a significant issue for farmers in Nigeria, as it is in other regions of the country. The extent to which farmers can use their farmlands to cultivate food crops is also constrained by their fear of potential recurrent attacks. Lack of access to fertilisers and seedlings that are climate resilient and could increase food productio availability are further issues affecting farming in the region. The local population is becoming more impoverished, and there is more hunger due to these issues.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) helped the community increase local food production in collaboration with the state government by giving agricultural supplies to farmers around the community for the year’s planting season and the eagerly anticipated rains. This endeavour is consistent with UNDP’s goal of reviving the socioeconomic activities of the northeast Nigerian communities impacted by violence to make those communities resilient and sustainable for the long term.

The distribution of farm equipment in 2022 is intended to benefit 3000 farmers in Ngala and 1000 in Banki, a different Borno State community. The resources offered, which include agricultural machinery, fertilisers, and enhanced seeds of maize, cowpea, millet, sorghum, peanut, and sesame, would improve farming operations in general and increase food output. Along with the tools, farmers will also receive instruction on intelligent agriculture practices like innovative planting, harvesting, preservation, and storage procedures to help them increase farm productivity while reducing post-harvest losses. One of the farmers this year who will receive farming equipment is Jugudum Ali Ngalama. He concentrates on growing vegetables, lettuce, onions, okra, and cowpeas in addition to rice. Jugudum used to farm 50 to 60 hectares of land annually before the insurgency but can now barely manage less than 5 hectares due to the fighting and security situation. Due to the fighting and security situationJugudum reflected on the difficulties he had to overcome and said:

“The security and conflict crisis has affected our food production, and now we have food scarcity, as we can barely afford to buy seedlings and farming machinery. When the insurgents attacked, they destroyed everything, including our farming equipment. On the other hand, nature has also dealt us a blow. In November 2021, a herd of elephants migrating from Cameroun attacked our farms and destroyed all crops; we couldn’t salvage anything. Since there was no good harvest, food prices increased, making it impossible for most to afford.”

Jugudum was thrilled that he and his three labourers could get to work immediately as he departed from home with his portion of the farming equipment. “Since we’ve already entered the rainy season, our support is quite timely. I can now utilise the money I set aside to buy seedlings and hire more labourers to assist on the farm, allowing me to advance more quickly and provide jobs for our young people. I hope we will have a plentiful harvest in surplus this year that I may sell for more revenue to feed my family.”

Farming is Aisha Ali’s way of life. She is a widow with seven kids. She was saddened and never believed she could bear the loss when she lost access to her farmlands during the insurgence. But three years ago, she was able to start farming again. Even though it hasn’t been simple, she is confident that the inputs she received would help her produce more crops this year.

“I will use the inputs sensibly, and I believe that I will get a good harvest this year as the weather conditions for farming this year is promising. After the harvest, I will still store some seeds for the next planting season; that way, I don’t need to rely on humanitarian people giving us seedings,” Aisha said

Aisha is content with her training in intelligent agriculture. She now knows new farming techniques and harvest preservation techniques. She thinks that the latest agricultural practices will guarantee a good harvest that is sustainably produced.

The necessity of aiding the recently relocated farming community of “Wulgo” is noteworthy. A short distance from Cameroonian territory, Wulgo is regarded as a farming community because more than 90% of the locals are farmers who were uprooted during the crisis. Three hundred people from this area were chosen as the intervention’s target beneficiaries to help them restart their farming operations.

Mala Tijjani Ngala, the head of the local administration, emphasises the value of empowering the Wulgo Community. “We are renowned for our exceptional farming skills; this support will help restore hope for rebuilding their lives and inspire others to return to their farms. The entire Ngala local government’s economy will be significantly impacted.

Integration and Equity

UNDP equips farmers with climate-smart agricultural technologies and techniques across the nation, encouraging livelihood diversification that gives underrepresented women in agri-economic activities more leverage. More than 50% of the chosen recipients are female farmers, some of whom fall under the category of female-headed households. With this assistance, they can work harder and support their families financially.

Around 70 women farmers from Yobe, a small village in Ngala, are members of the women’s organisation for farmers, known as the “Yobe Women Multipurpose Farming Association.” The group was established two years ago to enhance local food production by sharing farming expertise. More than 30% of the individuals in this group received assistance from the Agric input distribution.

The association’s leader, Binta Umar, commented on the intervention’s effects by saying that “food security may be attained when the government invests in and supports local farmers by imparting them innovative farming methods that contribute to the output of bountiful harvests. We appreciate some of our members are involved in this project, and we will impart our knowledge to those not reached this time around so that more people can gain from it. To lower the price of food, we are hoping for a good harvest this year.

Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network

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