By Ene Okwanihe, Abuja.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership with the government of Kaduna state NorthWest Nigeria, through the United Nations Joint Project Food Africa Project has built the capacity of 280 vegetable farmers and distributed 3,976 various farming implements.
It also included Agro inputs to enhance productivity and livelihood of beneficiaries in the state.
The Food Africa Project is an innovative partnership between FAO, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Fund, International Labour Organisation (ILO), International Trade Centre (ITC), Sahara Foundation, the Roca Brothers and the Kaduna State Government to empower youth.
Modern farming equipment
It will also promote innovative Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) through more efficient agro-food value chains in Nigeria.
Small holders mostly suffers hazard of post-harvest losses, due largely to the lack of capacity to add value to their produce and modern farming equipment to ease the process.
This among other challenges has continued to hurdle intervention efforts to alleviate rural poverty through improved economic activities targeted at the vast population of farmers in the country.
Food value chain development
With that in mind the FAO organised series of trainings, facilitated by Leventis Foundation, along the vegetable value chain for farmers in Jere community of the state to promote replicable integrated solutions to agro food value chain development, food security and nutrition, youth employment and poverty alleviation.
During the distribution of the items, the Deputy Governor of Kaduna state Dr. Hadiza Balarebe said the intervention is a welcome development as it would help address the challenges of post-harvest losses and enhance access to markets.
Dr. Balarebe pledged that Government is committed to provide all that is necessary to make the program a success.
“We are ready to work with you to expand it to other local governments and crops within the state to ensure the administrations people-centered agenda it has set to achieve,” he said.
The FAO Country Representative in Nigeria Mr. Suffyan Koroma said in order to foster a culture of exploiting the value chain in vegetable production, farmers especially women and youth should have the right capacities to take full advantage of the available opportunities for enhanced incomes.
He noted that the trainings were in line with the cardinal intent of the partnership to promote employment, improve livelihoods, and empower young women and men.
“The overall objective is to create opportunities for decent jobs and secure livelihoods with approaches for alleviating child hunger and under nutrition through better government policies, fair and accountable public institutions and inclusive and sustainable business practices,” Koroma stated.
Items distributed included 2500 Plastic crates, 246 knapsack sprayers, 123 Water pump, 246 Wheelbarrow, 246 Watering cans, 123 specially made Jab Planters, 246 Garden Fork, 246 Head pan.
Others are 738 litres of bio-pesticides, 52.5kg of improved seeds of Okro, Tomato and Pepper.
Reducing post-harvest losses
One of the beneficiaries Mrs. Mary Joseph said the training and implements as well as other inputs received from FAO would go a long way not only to improve production but also help in reducing post-harvest losses she has been facing in her farming business.
A representative of the Tomato Growers Association in Kaduna State, Tasiu Haruna said many of his members have been experiencing many losses at harvest and during marketing stages.
He said with the training received on processing of vegetables, excess production can now be processed so that they don’t suffer losses in time of glut.
280 Farmers (158 male and 122 female) were trained on vegetable production, harvesting, packaging and storage; Farm records/accounts, book keeping, cash flow analysis, risks and uncertainties, cooperative management, sources of agricultural credits and bankable business
plans, value addition and market linkages the Beneficiaries pledged to use the knowledge acquired to improve their livelihoods and impart the community.