ABUJA – The Food and Agriculture Organisation and the United Nations Development Programme have contributed 800,000 dollars (about N132 million) for procurement and distribution of improved seeds to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the North East.
Ms. Louise Setshwaelo, the FAO Country Representative in Nigeria, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja.
“We are currently distributing seeds to the host families and to the IDP families in five of the states: Yobe, Borno, Taraba, Adamawa and Gombe.
“We have targeted about 17,000 households which comes close to 117,000 people; but the seeds that we are providing will be able to cover about 17,000 hectares.
“We are providing maize, sorghum and soya bean for them to plant.
“FAO contributed about 500,000 dollars and UNDP contributed 300,000 dollars; we combined the contribution from FAO and UNDP to purchase the seeds and do the distribution.”
Setshwaelo explained that the seed distribution was the UN agencies’ strategy to support the North East in the face of insurgency, to reduce the burden on both the displaced persons and their host families.
She explained that a UN assessment mission in May visited six states in the North East to evaluate the number of people affected and displaced by the insurgency.
According to her, assessment report indicates that no fewer than 600,000 people are internally displaced and that majority of the IDPs are living with host families.
This, she said, necessitated the distribution of food and seeds to ensure food security.
The FAO Country Representative also urged partners and donor agencies’ support in establishing alternative livelihoods, the establishment of cottage businesses and other machinery, to support the IDPs who do not have land to plant.
She said that the FAO was also working with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), another sister UN agency, to realise this objective, especially for women in the affected states.
“We are also working on a programme on alternative livelihoods to make sure that at least the families can generate some income to buy food from the market.
“We are aware that not all of them had access to land; we could not give all of them seeds.
“We are thinking that we can mobilise resources to at least support those who have not been able to get the seeds that we are distributing.
“For women for instance, to be able to buy small processing machines for garri and also looking at small poultry; this will be able to help them to generate some income.
“If we can get funding, buy them some small equipment that are used for fish drying, the smoking kilns.
“We are hoping that some of the donors will be able to support the families on alternative livelihoods.”
She further told NAN that her organisation was partnering the Presidential Initative on the North East (PINE) in augmenting food supplies for the three states in the North East, where the Federal Government declared a State of Emergency.
“We are also partnering the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE); we have actually been working very closely with PINE as far as the seed distribution is concerned.
“Our plan was that we will go in and distribute the seeds at the same time that PINE will be distributing some food items; so this is the plan.
“We will continue to work with PINE on the agriculture component of the alternative livelihoods; we have built a very good relationship with that presidential initiative.
“We know that the state governments, the Federal Government and the humanitarian community in Nigeria are all doing a lot to support them,” Setshwaelo said. (NAN)