By Obinna Unaeze
The Victims Support Fund (VSF) on Wednesday distributed farm inputs to 700 farmers affected by insurgency and banditry in Niger.
Prof Nana Tanko, Executive Director of the fund disclosed this during the distribution of the items to the small scale farmers at the IDPs camps in Kuta and Kagara Local Government Areas of the state.
“These farm inputs Knapsack sprayer, plus NPK and Urea fertiliser is for 700 farmers in Kuta and Kagara areas.
“This is an intervention that is targeted at farmers in the IDPs camps who are ready to go back home to farm,” Tanko said.
She said that it was discovered that many farmers fled their ancestral homes due to incessant attacks and were living in IDP camps, and therefore were unable to farm.
“We are glad that with the wet season many of you have decided to go back to your communities to farm,” Tanko said.
She explained that the intervention was only meant for IDPs who had already cultivated their lands.
Tanko further explained that each farmer would get a Knapsack sprayer, three bags of 50kg of NPK and two bags of 50kg of Urea fertiliser respectively.
She urged the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the items as they would be monitored through the Niger State Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA) and the state Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The executive director promised that the fund would subsequently support the IDPs in the areas of education, sanitation, accommodation and basic learning materials.
Inaugurating the exercise, Alhaji Haliru Jikantoro, the State Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, lauded the VSF for the gesture and enjoined the farmers to make good use of the items.
Jikantoro, represented by Malam Suleiman Rijau, Managing Director, Niger State Agricultural and Mechanisation Development Authority (NAMDA) said officials of the ministry would monitor the the beneficiaries to enable them provide food for their households.
Similarly, retired Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, Chairman of the Fund, said the fund would collaborate with government and non-governmental organisations to develop appropriate synergies towards assisting the victims.
Danjuma, represented by retired Maj-Gen. Suleiman Labaran, who is also a member of the VSF Interim Management Team, said that the intervention was prompted by warnings of the IDPs.
Also speaking, Malam Ahmed Inga, Director General, NSEMA, commended both the federal and state governments for ensuring peace returned to some of the affected communities.
“This is the reason why some of our farmers have returned home to farm now,” Inga said.
Earlier, Mr Dauda Kanneh, Chief Executive Officer, Development Initiative of West Africa (DIWA), a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), commended the transparent manner in which the exercise was conducted.
Responding on behalf of the farmers, Malam Rabiu Ilyasu, a farmer appealed to both the federal and state governments to end the security challenges to enable them concentrate on their farming activities.
Ilyasu thanked the VSF for the gesture and promised that the items would be utilised accordingly. (NAN)