By EricJames Ochigbo
A group of 800 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), who are farmers in Ankoma community, Karu Local Government Area, Nasarawa state, have pledged to contribute to the nation’s food production in 2016.
The Chairman of the group, Mr Bitrus Luka, said on Friday that the IDPs who had taken to farming will produce 350 articulated vehicles full of food items by the end of 2016.
He said that the community of displaced persons produce 35 truck full of beans, corn and groundnut in 2015 which it sold to traders in Ibadan.
He however called for access to farm inputs to boost their productivity.
Luka spoke at the inauguration of an IDP Support Programme titled: “Adopt an IDP Farmer Initiative.’’
The programme is being facilitated by Smile Again Africa Initiative (SAAI), an NGO, and the Green Yelwa Nigeria Limited, producers of Yelwa Bio-fertiliser.
He said they were determined to produce 350 articulated vehicles full of food items in 2016.
“We need access to farm inputs, farm machineries and market to keep the IDPs productive and to contribute to the diversification of the economy from oil to agriculture,” he said.
The chairman said they were over 800 victims of insurgency from Borno living peacefully with the host community since 2014.
According to him, IDPs living in surrounding communities in the local government area were over 2000 persons.
He described the indigenes of the host community as true Nigerians, saying that the indigenes have been sharing their flats with the IDPs.
Luka said they were receiving support from National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and from other well meaning Nigerians.
He, however, said IDPs lacked access to health facilities, community access roads, hygiene and sanitation.
Luka said the farmland which the host community generously gave the IDPs were under threat of destruction by herdsmen.
He appealed to the government to protect and provide for the IDPs and facilitate their return homes as soon as possible.
Mr Bashir Usman, Desk Officer, Cowpea Value Chain, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said he came to witness the work the IDPS were doing.
According to him, this is to see what is required by the IDPs with regards to farming activities.
Usman said the IDPs needed farm inputs like fertilisers, seeds, agro chemicals, farm implements among others.
He urged the farmers to continue to live in harmony with the host community and farm as government had good plans for them.
According to him, the days of subsistence farming with crude implements will soon be over.
In his remarks, the Chief Executive Officer, Smile Again Africa Initiative, Mr Sunday Webba, said the NGO was encouraged by the doggedness of the IDPs.
He said for displaced persons to contribute immensely to national food production and food security, there were need to mobilise every support possible for them.
Also speaking, the President, Green Yelwa Nigeria Limited, Dr Vincent Okpala, said the IDP Support Programme would help the country out of recession and the IDPs out of hunger.
Represented by the Vice President of the company, Mr Abdurraqaak Nnamdi, Okpala announced a donation of 100 litres of liquid organic fertilisers that would cover 100 hectares of land.