The European Union (EU), Oxfam in Nigeria, Development Exchange Center (DEC) and the Taraba State Government are collaborating on a new initiative aimed at increasing the productivity and income of farmers in the state.
The project launched in Jalingo recently, will target about 300,000 people in 30,000 farming households in Donga, Wukari, Ardo Kola, Kurmi, Takum and Zing local government areas of the state.
The project funded by the EU and jointly implemented by Oxfam in Nigeria and DEC, is known as Produce and Sell (PROSELL).
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The project seeks to improve the resilience of small-scale farmers, fishermen and livestock owners in the face of shocks from climate change, such as changing rainfall patterns, drought and desertification.
Organizers said its implementation follows the success of Pro-Resilience Action (PROACT), a similar EU-funded project that is currently reaching 35,000 farming households in Kebbi and Adamawa states.
PROACT has helped to increase farmers’ access to timely agricultural inputs such as seeds and fertilizers; finance for farmer groups; knowledge on practices to improved their yield through farmer field training schools, and community-owned grain reserves to provide food in the lean season, tree planting climate change and village savings and loans association to grow flexible financial services for the rural poor.
Speaking at the event, the Head of the Health, Nutrition and Resilience Section at the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms. Montserrat Pantaleoni, who represented the Head of Delegation, Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, at the launch, stressed the importance of the EU’s focus on women and youth not only in Taraba state, but for the country as a whole.
“This project will target 50 percent women and 30 percent youth, and this is important. It is predicted that Nigeria will be the fourth most populous country in the world by 2050, it is essential that population growth is accompanied by sustainable economic development. It is crucial that women and young people, who make up most of the country, are able to contribute meaningfully to the economy,” she said.
Also speaking at the event, the Acting Country Director of Oxfam in Nigeria, Mr. Constant Tchona, said that PROSELL will fulfill a strong need for agricultural and socioeconomic development in Taraba State.
According to him, “Seventy-seven percent of people in Taraba State are living in poverty in a state where vast majority of the people work in agriculture, so we know that there is a need to do agriculture better in the state. Also, 43 percent of children in Taraba experience stunted growth due to malnutrition, which means that access to nutritious food is also a challenge. There are also issues of conflict and natural resource management. All of this is why we believe that a project like PROSELL can make much-needed and visible impact in Taraba State and, by extension, Nigeria as a whole.”
Responding, Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State commended the EU for its ‘timely intervention’, which he said would immensely complement his administration’s effort in food resilience.
The Governor said the PROSELL initiative was in sync with his administration’s Agriculture Rescue Agenda, geared towards increased productivity and enhancing livelihood of small-scale farmers in the state