Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in North East Nigeria  have reasons  to smile as  the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) is  giving them a new lease of life through agriculture.

Under the ongoing Restoring Agricultural Livelihoods of IDPs, Returnees and Vulnerable Host Families in North East Nigeria project, FAO is distributing vegetable seeds and irrigation support  to 174, 400 people for the dry season while also scaling up interventions in the region to provide support for the people ahead of the rainy season.

During a visit to the FAO project site at Fariya, a village in Jere Local government, in Borno state, the Director of Emergency and Rehabilitation at FAO, Dominique Burgeon expressed that it was important to tackle issues of food insecurity by aid risk families in producing their own foods.

“We are approaching a critical period in the agricultural calendar. This is our main opportunity to   tackle these truly staggering levels of food insecurity by helping at-risk   families to produce their own food. The rainy season begins in May-June.   Farmers need to have seeds, fertilizers and tools in their hands by then so they can plant. If they miss this season, humanitarian costs are just going to keep rising and rising into 2018,” he said.

He noted that nutrition outcomes will worsen if efforts were not taken to address food security issues during this period.

The delegates were visiting Borno State to see the impact of conflict and violence on civilian populations and   the response by national and local authorities and international organisations.

A report from the FAO indicates that with more than 80 percent of north eastern Nigeria’s rural population depending on crop or livestock farming, investing in agriculture  is critical to tackling food insecurity.

However, the organisation is supporting 2,000 farmers in Fariya, and with funding from the Governments of Belgium,   Ireland and Japan, the intervention aims to enhance the self-sufficiency of   returnees and vulnerable host families, women and youths through training and   critical inputs including seedlings, water pumps and fertiliser for vegetable   production.