Years after they were forced by Boko Haram to flee their homes, about 4000 farming households in Adamawa State have received free farm inputs from the the federal government to resume crop production.
In the height of the Boko Haram conflict about three years ago, communities in northern part of Adamawa State sharing borders with Borno State were severely hit by the insurgency.
Madagali, Michika and Mubi local government areas in the state were the worst hit.
It is believed that Boko Haram insurgents still have pockets of their stronghold in those areas. But with the recent liberation of some of the communities, IDPs camping in Yola and Mubi towns had to return home to cultivate their lands.
Rebecca Sunday, one of the IDPs, widowed by the conflict, said she needed to return to her village to cultivate her family’s abandoned farm land in this cropping season because “we have been living from pot to mouth; the hunger is too much, despite the food handouts that we sometimes receive from NGOs.”
The federal government’s Victims Support Fund (VSF) was on Thursday in Gulak, the headquarter of Madagali Local Government Area, to flag-off its 2018 rain fed farming intervention, by distributing free agricultural inputs for selected 4000 households.
According to the VSF, the intervention aims to administer appropriate support to victims of insurgency and facilitate the restoration of livelihood through economic empowerment of households in the North-east.
Earlier, the chairman of the fund, Theophilus Danjuma, a general, who was represented by Alkasim Abdulkadir, a board member of the fund, explained that the rain-fed farming programme will improve household nutrition and also engender financial independence for victims who have returned to their communities.
To that end, the VSF is distributing improved varieties of seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and sprayers to the farmers with a special consideration for widowed women that have become family heads, due to the Boko Haram.
“A total of 4000 households will receive agricultural inputs across the three most affected states of Borno Adamawa and Yobe,” he said.
Mr Abdulkadir in his opening speech said “the measure was to ensure that those affected are able to bounce back to their normal lives”.
The Executive Director of the fund, Sunday Ochoche, a professor, urged the beneficiaries, including widows, not to sell the inputs provided them but to use it in building their future.
“We are delighted that today, the situation in Madagali has stabilized to the point that we can gather to flag off a critical project of of the VSF.
“So we urge you all to make good use of these inputs which are one of the best and please don’t sell them, for selling them would amount to selling your future,” he said.
Mr Ochoche said the VSF will ensure appropriate utilisation of the inputs by grouping the benefitting hourseholds into group of 20s, monitored by designated officials.
The Adamawa State commissioner for agriculture, Ahmadu Waziri, and the council chairman of Madagali, Yusuf Mohammed, commended VSF’s support to the displaced even as they both warned that any person caught selling or buying the freely distributed inputs would be arrested and prosecuted .
Rebecca Sunday expressed delight that herself and her five children as well as her aged mother in-law will again be self-sufficient in terms of food.
“There is nothing like being in charge of what one eats and drinks without having to wait for somene to give you handouts; and for this we thank the VSF people for coming to our aid,” she said.
“This is not the first time VSF comes to our assistance, some years ago, they came to assist over 2500 of our children through foster care programme and have also given some empowerment to 5000 selected women. We are indeed grateful, but there is nothing better than returning home to cultivate one’s own land for food production.”
Established in 2014 by the former administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, VSF continues to work out its mandate, which is “to restore hope to victims of insurgency through foster care programmes for orphaned children, strengthening health systems to respond to medical needs of victims requiring health care services, education and psychosocial support to affected children and the reconstruction of public buildings devastated by the insurgents.”