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United Nations Development Programme trains farmers on food security

The United Nations Development Programme, UNDP and the Global Environment Facility have concluded a three-day training for farmers from four Northern states on Land and Water Management and Climate Smart Agriculture.

The training will enable them to enhance food security in the Savannah zone of Northern Nigeria.

The programme which was held in Abuja for Agricultural extension workers, the civil society and the media from Adamawa, Benue, Gombe and Nassarawa States on Integrated Agriculture and Livestock Management, taught the farmers how to use technology to increase yield and make use of residues from crops and livestock to create wealth.

The states, Adamawa, Benue, Gombe and Nassarrawa, are part of a larger group of a five-year programme for seven states in the savannah zone of Northern Nigeria, which are partnering with Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to implement landscape management to enhance food security.

Resilience of food production

The other objectives of the project are to enhance long-term sustainability and resilience of food production systems in Nigeria, building greater community resilience to climate risks and other shocks that drive food insecurity.

It is also intended to scale up sustainable land and water management and climate-smart agricultural practices in support of environmental and social development benefits at farm and landscape level.

According to the National Project Coordinator, Alhaji Abdullahi Garba Abubakar, participants should strive to understand the concept or technology, because they would be expected to educate other farmers in their communities on how to help increase yield, despite natural disasters of any kind.

The Technology of preservation, processing, value addition, we just have to imbibe it because that is exactly where the losses will happen. After harvest and you find out that you cannot process or add value to it, you find out that you are losing a lot. So, under this programme, we are going to encourage processing, value addition and preservation. At least it will take them to the next level, Alhaji Abubakar said.

Modern technologies

Jigawa, Kano and Katsina were the three other states in the project, where a similar training had already been held previously.

The project selects two local governments in each of the seven states and two communities in each local government, where the projects are situated and farmers in those communities taught the various modern technologies that will increase yield.

During the training therefore, participants were chosen from these communities and expected to go back to their communities to train at least 20 others.

Alhaji Abubakar explains how the lessons learnt would translate to poverty reduction.

These communities are supposed to upscale what they are doing in terms of agriculture. And this is the technology we are impacting on those that we have invited to this training. So that at the end, they will scale down the training to the local communities and teach the farmers how they can use this modern technology, apply them in their farming so that it can increase yield and become more efficient and effective for them to embrace agriculture, Alhaji Abubakar said.

The Acting Project Manager of the Nassarawa State, Mr. Alanana Emmanuel, while applauding the project and its impact on food security, still call on the state government to enhance manpower by replacing retired or dead extension workers and also recruit new brains in the system.

Our expectation is to increase the livelihood of our farmers. What we have come here to do is a T.O.T training (Train-The-Trainer), programme. And as we go back home, we are supposed to do a step-down training to the larger group of farmers. Now, my concern is all about agriculture. Governments should go further by not making the development of agriculture a theory, but making it a practical thing. And what I mean by government, I am not talking only about the Federal Government, but governments at all levels, states and local governments. As you can see, a lot of problems are happening in most of the states, because the old hands, the older ones are retiring, some are dying, no employment, nor replacement. So, the younger ones that are coming behind are finding it difficult to learn. Even though they are graduates, but the practical aspect is not there. So, we are calling on governments to do employment, especially on the aspect of extension, because for any technology to be transferred, extension workers are the ones to do this. And the problems we are having in most of the states now, the extension-agent-farmer ratio is growing wider. Instead of having a normal of between 800 and 1000, which is the standard, you will find out that in most of the states now, one extension agent is dealing with 13, 14, 15 thousand farmers. So, the effectiveness of their job is no longer tenable, Mr. Alanana said.

For some of the participants from Gombe, Mrs. Gloria Usman and Mrs. Comfort Sende-Terna from Benue, the experience has been exciting and worth sharing.

Integrate farming systems

Frankling, I have learnt a lot here that I intend to give back to the women groups I am working with. Such things like recycling thing. Even during this farming season, because I have earlier partner with West African Agricultural Production Programme, but this one that I am learning, even those things we throw away, are things that we can even plough back to the system. Like we've just been told that this sugarcane residue is a value chain, said Mrs. Usman from Gombe State.

The workshop has been very inciting, educational and we are getting a lot of experiences, we are learning a lot of new things. We are trying to see how we can integrate farming systems, raising livestock and crops. As well as using the residues, the waste, making profitable for our farmers, Mrs. Sende-Terna from Benue, said.

With 30 participants trained from each of the seven states, they are now expected to share the knowledge they acquire with at least 20 others in their various communities, that way the knowledge will trickle down to so many communities to enhance for security.

The areas of focus for the participants included integrated livestock managemet and feeding systems, profitable uses of agro-residue and recycling in integrated farming, facilitation skills and cooperative management for sustainable development, among others.

Source: Voice of Nigeria