From Judex Okoro, Calabar
A Dutch NGO, Solidaridad West Africa, and four others have empowered about 950 farmers from 36 communities in oil plam production in Cross River.
Solidaridad West Africa has been paternering with some Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, including the Food and Health Initiative, Green Aid Africa, Youth Training Hub Africa and the Centre for Community Empowerment and Peace Initiative to among others train farmers to implement best management practices, improve oil palm farm, profitability and sustainability.
Briefing journalists in Calabar after an assessment tour of some benefiting communities in six local government areas of the state, the leader of the CSOs team and chairman of Centre for Community Empowerment and peace initiative, Dr Otu Ibor, said Solidaridad is also working in three other states of Akwa Ibom, Kogi and Enugu on oil palm production.
Ibor said besides training 950 farmers on climate change adaptations, they were also trained on the need to participate in decision making, access to equitable distribution of resources and opportunities that improve their quality of life and livelihood.
He explained that together with the community facilitators, they were able to emphasize on the need for all farmers across all the locations to adopt best management practices, sustainable land use and good agricultural practices which they have previously been trained on.
He admitted that the training programmes were met with some challenges such as inability of women and young persons to have access to land, lack of funds and modern techniques as well as poor road network.
He commended the organisation for stimulating sustainable supply chains through innovations in production, marketing, trade relations, landscape management and policy enabling
Also speaking, the leader of Food and Health Initiative, Vicky O’Neill, said the aim of the partnership is to entrench Best Management Practices in oil palm cultivation in the state.
She said: “We work in communities to improve oil palm production and ensure that their yield is better than what they had before.
“We have been to Ikom, Biase, Obubra Bekwarra, Ugep and have this far covered 36 communities across the state.
“We have gone there to know their needs and the intervention is not to give them money but better seedlings and inputs that will ensure better yields.
“We also hope to assist them with farm tools that will enable them to farm. Some of them lack these inputs as well as access to farms and markets so this is where Solidaridad and it’s partners can intervene”, she said.
She added that in order to improve access to finance, the Voluntary Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) has been created where oil palm farmers borrow money and be educated on effective use of financial resources.
Also speaking, Okokon Ide Bassey from Green Aid Africa said bush burning triggers climate change and oil palm farmers have been educated to desist from this.
He said there is a better way Solidaridad has shown oil palm farmers because burning the bush is on the risk side and bush burning hampers the yield of the palm.