Over 16,000 farmers have been empowered by the $10million Canadian government-funded Livelihood and Nutritional Empowerment project implemented by Oxfam in Bauchi State.
The project initially targeted 10,000 smallholder farmers, but a total of 16,598 smallholder farmers, 60 per cent women, were reached in six local government areas in Bauchi.
This was revealed during an event held in Abuja on Monday to close the project.
The Country Director, Oxfam, Dr. Vincent Ahonsi, said, “What we are having today (Monday) is the closure of the government of Canada-funded ‘LINE’ project.
“The project has been running for over six years and has engaged in financial inclusion, which is setting up village savings and loans, associations and cooperatives by the people and we are also helping the people in Bauchi on dry season farming. The project provided over 1,400 boreholes as well as over 700 pumping machines to facilitate dry season farming in Bauchi.
“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. Inadequate farm inputs, poor agricultural yields, food insecurity, lack of awareness of healthy food diversity for nutritional balance, and malnutrition were some of the challenges in the state.
“Reversing these hitherto inadequate agricultural inputs, high incidence of pests and diseases, low agricultural yields, and resultant food insecurity, malnutrition and poverty were the tasks that the LINE Project engaged in.
“To solve these problems, the Oxfam-implemented LINE Project supported 16,598 smallholder farmers, 60% of whom were women, in six LGAs of Tafawa Balewa, Alkaleri, Ningi, Darazo, Shira and Gamawa with dry season farming inputs including seedlings, fertilizers and herbicides.
“The project trained farmers on climate-smart agriculture and provided irrigation facilities which included 720 pumping machines and 1,400 boreholes to facilitate dry season farming.”
The Head, Development Cooperation, High Commission of Canada to Nigeria, Djifa Ahado, noted that Global Affairs Canada applauded the collaboration which the LINE project enjoyed from the Bauchi State Government and host local governments.
Ahado said, “This type of collaboration is key for 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.
“The project monitoring visits conducted throughout the almost seven years of the project revealed that about 90% of its expected outputs and outcomes were achieved.”
A representative of the Women Empowerment Initiative, Bauchi, Hajaratu Pisagih, noted the project had touched the lives of thousands of women in the state.
She said, “They were also introduced to a savings scheme where they saved their money. A woman who had never held N5000 of her own got about N300,000 after the savings and it put smiles on their families and the communities.”
A beneficiary, Fatima Amina, revealed that she and other beneficiaries now engaged in farming during the dry season, adding that Oxfam gave them a pumping machine for irrigation that had helped them to get more yield.
She added, “Oxfam gave us economic trees to plant as a way of fighting desertification. We were also given seeds that had been replicating, and we were linked to the fertilizer suppliers who sold at a cheaper rate.”