By Emmanuella Anokam
The National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) says it has trained 300 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) on best agronomic practices on crop value chain to boost agricultural livelihood and food security.
NANTS President, Mr Ken Ukaoha, said this on Monday in Abuja at its Post-Harvest training on the Best Agronomic Practices for Maize and Groundnut Farming value chain for IDPs beneficiaries.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the agronomic training, which targeted IDPs beneficiaries in Durumi and Kuje is part of NANTS Corporate Social Responsibility (CRS) and humanitarian project.
Ukaoha said that in the bid to implement NANTS project on humanity in the FCT, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) coincidentally introduced a Social Safety Net Project through the Regional Agency for Agriculture and Food (RAAF).
He said that NANTS keyed into the Social Safety Net Project to improve the IDPs, adding that it was being implemented with support from the Spanish International Development Agency (AECID).
According to him, the post-harvest training is the last component of the pilot phase of the project to improve beneficiaries’ post-harvest handling and storage management thereby reduce post-harvest on and off farm losses.
Ukaoha said that the project was aimed at providing agriculture livelihoods option through improved technology for selected IDPs in the two camps in Abuja.
He said that it would also help to build their capacity for improved productivity of selected crop value chain.
He said that the training would enhance food security mechanisms for IDPs and host community through agriculture extension service with emphasis on grain production, storage and market access.
According to him, it will also foster access to agricultural tools and coping mechanism between the IDPs and host community geared towards maximising land use and access.
In realizing these objectives, he said NANTS carried out selection and registration of beneficiaries’ data including bio-data capturing to ensure that ghost beneficiaries were avoided.
“NANTS engaged in procurement of inputs and tools, pre-season training on land preparation, soil observation, identification of making farming business, investing in farming, the importance of new technology in farming and agribusiness.
“There was public launching and distribution of inputs such as improved seeds of maize and groundnut, chemicals (herbicide and pesticide), fertilisers, knapsack sprayers and farm implements,’’ the Trade and Economic Development Law Advocate said.
He said that NANTS established Demo Plots for in-season training, where it held effective monitoring by its extension officers all through the project cycle.
The expert said that NANTS decided to incorporate new concept of capacity building known as the Gender Action Learning System (GALS), a NANTS Oxfam-IFAD methodology which had exhibited huge socio-economic impact among farmers in Nasarawa State
Ukaoha thanked ECOWAS- RAAF, AECID and Ministry of Agric and Rural Development for their assistance, adding that the replication of the project would attract huge success and empowerment.
“While the government has continued to fight terrorism and seek final resolution of banditry and crises between crop farmers and herdsmen, good-spirited organisations have also attempted to fill the gap of assisting the poor IDPs.
“However the task of supporting these IDPS is increasingly becoming huge and demanding, particularly given that the IDPs cannot be depending on handouts and remain a burden to the society.
“For this reason, organisations must rise to the challenge of supporting and complementing government’s efforts by helping IDPs to be mentally awake and assume an appreciable source of sustainable livelihoods,’’ the trade expert said.
Mr Carles Borell, the Coordinator General of AECID said that the Spanish government was deeply concerned about the challenges being faced by the IDPs in Nigeria, adding that it would continue to partner with NANTS to improve their living.
Commending NANTS on its intervention, he called for more scale-up intervention programmes to cater for the IDPs.
Pastor Jacob Ndirmbula, the Sectary of Chibok Committee, Pegi Community, Kuje expressed gratitude on the intervention by NANTS and others since they found themselves in the community.
He pleaded that government should tackle some of their challenges which included lack of farmlands, provision of fertilisers and chemical, adding that these would make their lives easy and successful.
Mr Bala Yusuf, the Secretary, Durumi, Area one IDPs Camp commended NANTS for its “great assistance’’ and appealed for tractors and replication in other camps in desperate needs.