By Chinyere Anyanwu, [email protected]
The Canadian government, in collaboration with Oxfam Nigeria, has taken the initiative to champion agriculture revolution in Bauchi State to complement the state government’s efforts towards boosting agriculture.
Country Director of Oxfam Nigeria, Dr. Vincent Ahonsi, at a recent Livelihoods and Nutritional Empowerment (LINE) Project Close-out and Lessons’ Dissemination event affirmed that Bauchi farmers face several challenges in their trade.
Speaking at the event organised by Oxfam in collaboration with the Canadian government in Abuja, Ahonsi said the Canadian government intervened by sponsoring a $10 million Livelihood and Nutritional Empowerment (LINE) project implemented by Oxfam in six Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Bauchi State.
According to him, the project agreement was signed between the Government of Canada and Oxfam on March 21, 2016, and the implementation was carried out in Bauchi State.
The project, which has been running for six years has empowered 16,598 smallholder farmers in six LGAs of Tafawa Balewa, Alkaleri, Ningi, Darazo, Shira and Gamawa with dry season farming inputs including seedlings, fertilisers and herbicides.
“Oxfam is a worldwide development organisation that mobilises the power of the people against poverty. In Nigeria, we also work to influence policy change in favour of the poor and most vulnerable, promoting food security and supporting small scale farmers to improve the livelihoods of men and women in rural areas. We focus on meeting vulnerable people’s needs, saving lives, sustaining increased incomes for the poorest and transforming attitudes about women’s roles and rights.
“Today we are gathered here to officially close out the Government of Canada funded, Oxfam-implemented Livelihoods & Nutritional Empowerment (LINE) reviewing the lessons learnt from the project implementation,” he said.
Ahonsi said the project trained farmers on climate-smart agriculture, engaged in financial inclusion, which is setting up village savings and loans, associations and cooperatives.
He said the project provided no fewer than 1,400 boreholes as well as no fewer than 700 pumping machines to facilitate dry season farming in Bauchi State.
According to him, the project is a demonstration of a robust cooperation between the governments of Canada and Nigeria, through the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, the Bauchi State Government and Oxfam.
Ahonsi, therefore, said the LINE Project was implemented through local partnerships to purposely build the capacity of local stakeholders and NGOs, train small-scale farmers to improve their capacities and knowledge base and strengthen other local value chain actors.
Head of Development Cooperation, High Commission of Canada to Nigeria, Ms Djifa Ahado, commended the project for empowering many farmers in rural areas in the state.
Ahado expressed satisfaction with the performance of the LINE project, adding that it ended with very tangible results.
“In retrospect, this project was approved before Canada had launched its feminist international assistance policy. Yet all the project’s interventions were designed with women in mind and were testing ways to reach gender equality in communities, within local government and at the state levels.
“This type of collaboration is key to the project implementation but more importantly for the sustainability of results and impacts.
“In all projects we have here in Nigeria, this is the type of collaboration we are looking for in order to support self-reliance and continuously ensure the relevance of our projects for people, communities, local governments and states,” she said.
The Permanent Secretary, Bauchi State Ministry of Budget and Planning, Mr. Saleh Giade, said the LINE Project recorded huge successes in the selected six local government areas.
Giade stated that there are plans to extend the lessons learnt from the project to other local governments in the state.
Some beneficiaries of the project expressed gratitude to Canadian government and its implementing partner, Oxfam, for the privilege they enjoyed.
One of the beneficiaries, Ms Fatima Aminu, said before participating in the project she could barely make ends meet. She said with the knowledge and empowerment she received she was able to engage in dry season farming through which she made some money.
She said Oxfam gave them a pumping machine for irrigation and her farm had more yield, unlike during the wet season farming.
“Oxfam gave us economic trees to plant, which is another way of fighting desertification. We were given seeds which we have been replicating and we were also linked to where we can buy fertiliser at a cheaper rate,” she said.
Ms Hajaratu Pisagih, a partner in the Women Empowerment Initiative, Bauchi State, said the project touched the lives of many women in the state.
Pisagih said prior to the project, many women were marginalised, stating, however, that the project made it possible for women to participate in decision-making and have farms.
She said this has increased productivity and brought a lot of economic resources to their families.
“We also introduced a savings scheme where we save money. A woman who has never held N5,000 of her own got about N300,000 after the savings and it has put smiles on the faces of their families and the communities at large,” she said.