Farmers in three Enugu communities have been trained and empowered on agro-ecology with 207 improved palm-fruit seedlings by the South Saharan Social Development Organisation (SSDO) and ActionAid, Nigeria. The three communities in Enugu State are – Oduma Achara in the Aninri council area, Ihenyi in the Isi-Uzo council area, and Umuogili in the Igbo Eze council area.
Speaking at the end of the training in Umuogili community, Mr. Udochukwu Egwim, Head of Programmes and Strategic Partnership Agreement II Project Lead, said that the farmers had undergone a three-day agro-ecology training in established model farms. Egwim said that the impact of climate change had been more evident, especially on agriculture in Nigeria, due to unpredictable and adverse weather conditions. According to him, erratic rainfall, flooding of farmlands, rising temperature, and soil degradation had reduced farmers’ output as well as increased food insecurity.
“However, agro-ecology has been recognised as an essential solution to Nigeria’s food security and sustainability challenges, as it offers numerous advantages in addressing environmental degradation and population growth. Understanding this challenge, SSDO in partnership with ActionAid Nigeria, organised this agro-ecology training and established model farms under the Strategic Partnership Agreement Programme in the three communities”, he said. Egwim disclosed that the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA II), is a groundbreaking four-year initiative funded by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA).
“The initiative is making significant strides in promoting basic human rights, democratic values, and sustainable livelihoods for young individuals, particularly marginalised young women, within disaster-prone and protracted crisis areas in Nigeria,” he said. The SSDO head of programmes noted that in a truly participatory approach, the communities donated four plots of farmlands for demonstration (model) farms during their training and received 207 improved palm-fruit seedlings for their model and personal farms. The improved palm-fruit seedlings will help improve the socioeconomic status of the households and communities. It will also help communities become more resilient to climate change through afforestation and improved palm-fruit seedlings”, he added.
An agro-ecologist, Dr. Celestine Agah, noted that preserving soil health, reducing erosion and minimising reliance on synthetic inputs would ensure food security; adding that this agro-ecology holistic approach promotes sustainable agriculture. Agah, who is from the Enugu State Ministry of Agriculture, said that the integration of agro-ecology practices enhance food security by increasing productivity and profitability while simultaneously reducing dependence on costly external resources. “Additionally, it elevates rural livelihoods by bolstering incomes, improving living standards, stimulating economic growth, and alleviating poverty. The training enabled farmers to embrace sustainable practices, decrease reliance on harmful inputs, augment yields, and ultimately improve their incomes. This, in turn, paves the way for enhanced food security, improved rural livelihoods, and a more sustainable future for farming in the communities”, he said.
Another facilitator from the state Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Theophilus Ivoh, said that major farming methods and knowledge learnt by the farmers included soil conservation and sustainable water management. Ivoh said that the farmers were also taught a reduction in the use of agro-chemicals and fertilizers and more use of compost manure, pest control, multiple cropping, rotation, and inter-cropping. A beneficiary of the training, Mazi Obinna Madu, expressed gratitude to SSDO and ActionAid Nigeria for their commendable efforts at implementing what they called transformative agricultural project.
Madu said: “We are so grateful to SSDO and ActionAid Nigeria. We have gained knowledge and received fast maturing and improved palm-fruit seedlings to empower us and make us replace the aged palm fruit trees around us”. Another beneficiary, Mrs. Mary Agu, said that she quite appreciate the immense value of the training received and the great impact it would make in farms within her community and the state in general. As we have agreed to teach other farmers and our family members what we have learnt over these three days, I believe that we will make positive impact on our farms and overall livelihoods. It would be called that the successes of the agro-ecology workshops and training in communities in Enugu State signifies a significant step forward in achieving the goals outlined in the Strategic Partnership Agreement, SPA II.