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To promote gender equality and women's empowerment, there is need for information gathering, sharing and capacity building in terms of trainings and consultuations at community level. This will translate to behavioural change and improved farming practices, and better soil management and conservation. Capacy building and strenghtening should be focused at community level, since there is a huge disconnect between policy and implementation and policy translation into the lives of women.
Gender is a major connect between sustainable soil use and conservation, since most of the post cultivation are often carried out by women and girls, i.e. planting, weeding, and harvesting. There is the need to critically examine weeding and post harvesting practices, to improve on the soil fertility. What happens to the weeds removed, are they gathered and burnt? or are they kept in the farm to be converted to manure, and replenish the soil. After harvesting the crops, what happens to the plant residue? Are they usually left in the farms to manure or gathered and burnt? There is need to teach women to improve on knowledge about soil health through traditional practices that have helped to keep the soil healthy for production despite years of use. Most families still use the inherited lands for Agricultural practices for decades, just by adopting mixed farming techniques, mixed croping, and other traditional practices.
Women and girls are usually not allowed in the community decision making process, and this is a major hinderance to not just women participation, but limits their voices. Women and girls at community level have peer groups, and inviting leaders of women groups to the discusions, conversations, consultations, and decision making at community level, will ensure that women's contributions count, and that women's impact can help improve food production leading to zero hunger.
People-centered programming, there is the need to ask questions especially at community, farm, field level, to help inform decision and policy making. It has been the practice where decisions are made for women, not by women, and until we reverse this trend, we will keep eclising around the same old food shortages, hunger, malnutrition, and the likes.
Firstly in parts of Nigeria where the bulk of the food is being produced, is experiencing an upsurge in farmers/herders, clashes, some areas are seeing banditry and insurgency causing hunger and malnutrition, and deaths.
To ensure we have a food-secure world in Nigeria, especially in rural farming communities in Nigeria, we are providing health and well-being services to the farmers and the herders in their communities, because we have learned that the health and well being of the farmers will ensure that farmers can produce food, and also save cost in accessing healthcare services, which would ordinarily be contributed to the food production.
We are also training and teaching local farmers on the need to form a cal association to access financial support from the government and other donor groups to increase food security.
We are also training farmers on modern farming techniques, aimed at improving food production. Part of the training and local capacity building initiative include training farmers on soil health and different types of farming techniques to keep the ecosystem fit for continues use and maximize production.
Firstly in parts of Nigeria where the bulk of the food is being produced, there is an upsurge in farmers/herders, clashes, some areas are seeing banditry and insurgency which will lead to hunger and malnutrition.
We are building a public-private partnership in Agriculture by working with local private business owners to mobilize material support and support of local traditional and religious leaders to open up the communities to external services.
Because the majority of the farmers are afraid to travel a long distance to the farms, we are engaging with security agencies and vigilante groups for security surveillance as a proactive measure to ensure to forestall breakdown of law and order in the farming communities.
Private business owners and non-state funded research groups are the main players in the agricultural business in Nigeria, including the supply of fertilizer and other hybrids products.
There is a need for greater participation and collaboration between local actors and farmers to increase PPP in Agrio-business
In trying to understand Sustainable Food Systems, there are these 2 critical actors that are often neglected yet they are very fundamental drivers that can impact improved food systems.
1. The local farmers: these actors are the producers, and they are often not recognized in policy formulation and implementation. They are not recognized when pricing and regulation, the market regulators just fix prices and not considering inputs from the farmers, as they need to also measure their effort and some form of calculations to consider if they are making a loss or making profit from their farming activities. There is also the concern about transportation systems and access to market, we have seen that there is the activities of 'middle-men', buy the products are low prices and sell at higher prices making more profits than the farmers who are the producers.
2. Conflicts and crises: we are experiencing this concern in parts of North Central Nigeria, where farmers are clashing with herders, and tonnes of farm crops close to harvesting are either consumed by farm animals directed by the herders or burnt in anger and revenge. The face of conflict in Nigeria is having a huge impact on the food systems, and negatively affecting the food systems.
In understanding the food system, we need to understand the actors, the processes, the market and the final consumers. How does the consumer get the quality and the commensurate quantity, in the form that retains the nutrients that is needed.
Water harvesting is an age long tradition that has been implemented and still practiced by local farmers especially in the desert prone areas, but that is usually not sufficient because of the changing climatic conditions.
Most farmers now rely more on local dams and government water storage facilities to help cope with the water scarcity. This is because; these local farmers can’t afford to build their own storage facilities to cope with the water needs of their farms. Also it leads to over population around the water storage sites which could pose a potential threat of land grabbing, conflicts resulting in the depletion of the land resource used for production.
The water storages also come with the high cost of purchase of water pumping machines and water hose covering long distance to reach the farm lands; that some of these local farmers can’t afford.
To control water use because of the water need of vegetable, local farmers use the traditional ridging irrigation system throughout the year for crop production to ensure vegetable supplies.
On the flip side, there is the competition for the stored water especially in the outer fringes of northern Nigeria where rainfall is not insufficient to meet their agricultural needs therefore having herders and farmers competing for the little water stored to provide water their animals by the nomadic Fulani herders and the local farmers.
There is currently farmers/herders in part of Nigeria leading to hunger, malnutrition, killings, and forced displacement due to the competition for the limited land and water resources in the areas affected.
Most rural farmers in Nigeria are not even aware of the practice of Biodiversity, or biological diversity, primarily because the farmers practice inherited agricultural practice that seem to follow tradition, some practices that they have held unto over generations, these practices.
Trust in Biodiversity and biological diversity is a major concern among farmers, as they still believe that biodiversity or biological diversity has cultural implications from traditional belief, due to modification of the seeds and Agricultural produce.
To have them engaged in the practice of Biodiversity, or biological diversity, we need to educate them, train the, teach them, let them understand the innovation, how it has helped to increase agricultural yields in a shorter time.
In rural communities in Nigeria, security of lives and property is critical to agricultural production so that if the people are safe to go to their farms and produce food items, they can consume and sale off the excesses while also saving some for the next season's production. Failure to provide a safe production environment, people are not able to farm, leading to food shortage, hunger, and a decline into extreme poverty.
Working with rural people in Nigeria who feed themselves from the food they produce and also make the excesses available for sale so that the proceeds from such sale can help meet their domestic needs. And a good number of people in Waring communities are suffering and are going to suffer poverty, because of food production declines, and how can they escape extreme poverty when farming is all they know and do?
Painfully, crises destroy the natural resources, but if we can work more on building peace among communities and ethnic groups in Nigeria, where they need each other farmers need herders for natural manures, and herders need the farmers for nutritious crops and feed for their animals.
I know that the government of Nigeria has developed policies to help with agricultural practices, but the main concern is translations into practice, unfortunately, most of these policies will not work, because they were developed by experts design from academic knowledge as against field experiences, and real time updated needs of the people and not by the people. To make is truely worth practicing, we need to make the people design what works for them, and have the people lead the process.
In Northern Nigeria where you have different kinds of crisis, terrorism in the NE, cattle rustling in NW and farmers/herders clashes in the NC, these concerns attack the main food production region of the country, and sadly, hunger and extreme poverty looms, and we need to take urgent steps to save the people and the region from extreme poverty NOW.