About 24,000 farmers who lost their livelihoods to the Boko Haram insurgency in Borno state, Northeast Nigeria, have received support from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to resume planting crops in safe locations in the state.
ICRC said it had spent a budgeted N1.8 billion in providing cash and inputs to the farmers selected from across five local government areas of Borno state for the coming farming season.
The farmers were handed bags of different assorted seeds while each head of the farming household was handed N75,000 to rent lands, pesticides and farm tools in designated safe locations.
Mohammed Hussaini, ICRC’s Head of Agronomist, Economic and Security Department, said the beneficiaries were selected from Maiduguri Metropolitan Council (MMC), Jere, Dikwa, Bama, and Monguno Local Government Areas (LGAs).
He said, “the five local government areas suffered the most devastating effects of Boko Haram in the past decade. So far, 8,000 farmers from MMC and Jere have benefitted, while in Dikwa LGA, a total of 5,000 households are to benefit from the gesture.”
“In Dikwa, we have a total of 5,000 households. In Ngala, there are 2,000 households and in Bama, we have 3,500 households while in Monguno there are 5,000 households who were carefully selected to benefit from the exercise. These improved seed varieties are a 10kg bag of maize, 1.5kg of millet, 10kg rice seed, 7kg groundnuts, 6kg okra and 4kg cowpea for each head of the household,” Hussaini added.
He explained that each of these households will receive N55,000 cash to hire or purchase farmland, with an additional N20,000 to enable them to buy agro-inputs, agrochemicals, and other needs such as land labour and clearing.
These gestures, Hussaini said, are part of ICRC’s core mandate to support vulnerable farmers affected by the armed conflict, and are also aimed at improving the means of their livelihood and making them self-reliant as they resettle back to their liberated communities.
Bukar Alibe, an IDP from Monguno said he lost everything he once acquired including his farm implements when Boko Haram sacked his community some years ago.
“I had lost hope of ever getting the resources to resume farming since Boko Haram forced us to flee Monguno five years ago. I’m grateful to the ICRC people for coming with this kind of support for us farmers. Now I know the future won’t be like the past when many of our children and neighbours were dying due to hunger,” Alibe said.
Access to arable land for cropping has been a major challenge for farmers in Borno state, especially in resettled communities where it is still considered suicidal for returning IDPs and refugees to wander a few kilometres outside the garrison local government.
Boko Haram terrorists have been responsible for the death of many farmers who took the risk to go into the bushes.
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