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Promoting Resilience and Peaceful Coexistence among Displacement Affected Communities in North East Nigeria’ project, funded by the European Union, is helping over 1,700 farmers to grow their own food.
A smile of joy and satisfaction lit up his face as Tijani Mohammed spreads out stalks of millet harvested from his two-acre farm in Bololo, a small village on the outskirts of Maiduguri, Borno State, Northeast Nigeria. This is his first harvest in two years after fleeing his village of Kesa Kura, 25 kilometres away, when it was attacked by Boko Haram.
Today, Mohammed harvests millet, groundnut, maize, beans, sorghum and vegetables. He produces enough to feed his family and to sell to earn extra income, as well as save seeds for the planting season. He attributes his success to what he learned in the farmer field school.
Mohammed is one of over 1,700 individuals who have benefited from the Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC) ‘Promoting Resilience and Peaceful Coexistence among Displacement Affected Communities in North East Nigeria’ project funded by the European Union.
The intervention, which started in 2016, supported displaced farmers and vulnerable host communities with inputs and trainings for rain-fed farming, vegetable crop production and income generating activities, to address the negative impact of displacement.
Through the intervention, NRC provided seeds, fertilisers and tools to the farmers and established ten field schools. In the schools, farmers were clustered into groups of 20 to 25 people, to learn innovative methods of cultivating soil, water conservation and proper application of fertilisers and pesticides. Mohammed, with 23 other students, attended the school to improve their food production.
“In May this year, I noticed that my crops were not looking as healthy as those in the neighbouring farms,” recalls Mohammed. “I complained to the group. They visited my farm, helped me figure out the problem and worked with me to solve it,” he said, adding that his farm had suffered a pest infestation at the time.
Apart from educating farmers on innovative methods of crop production, the field school also helped in promoting peaceful coexistence among members of the community.
“People from various towns and tribes are now helping one another in the farm,” says Abatcha Mallam, leader of Bololo community. He said the number of disputes brought to him for resolution had reduced since the establishment of the field school, as residents of the town were engaged in finding ways to improve farm production.
Mohammed said he was thrilled that the trainings had helped him create a farm that could provide for his family. He stated that he is happy to give back to the community by training other farmers on pest control, soil and water conservation, and manure application.
“I was very poor and food insecure when I arrived to Bololo, but now I have enough for my family and to share with others in need. With help from the field school, I am planning to expand my farm next year, so I can produce more grains to sell, save money for my children’s education and start a petty business for my wife,” says Mohammed.
Through ten NRC-supported farmer field schools in Maiduguri, farmers like Mohammed are increasing their production, diversifying their sources of income, and becoming self-reliant. NRC is helping more farmers in Nigeria’s North Eastern state of Borno, where semi-arid conditions make it difficult to grow crops and to meet food needs, even during the lean season. These farmers are building farms and livelihoods that are resilient, ensuring that food security lasts.
The 'Promoting Resilience and Peaceful Coexistence among Displacement Affected Communities in North East Nigeria' project has also supported more than 1,800 households with complementary food security services, in order to respond to livelihood recovery needs and contribute to more access to safer livelihood options. These households were trained to establish and manage backyard vegetable gardens, and were also provided with vegetable farming inputs to establish backyard gardens within their localities.
“Even when people receive food interventions, they hardly have access to vegetables and fruits to complement their diet, leading to a hidden hunger. This is what this programme seeks to address” says Milton Zhakata, NRC’s Livelihood and Food Security Programme Development Manager in Maiduguri, Borno State.