By Lawrence Nwimo
A nongovernmental organisation, Hope Givers Initiative (HOG-I), Monday, empowered rural farmers in Awka North local government area of Anambra state with seedlings and fertilisers.
The empowerment covered no fewer than 300 registered farmers in the region, a gesture the organisation explained was to support the rural farmers with farm inputs ahead of the new farming season.
The empowerment also covered women in Awka North who were at the event, trained on liquid soap making. The gesture was part of the Evidence for Inclusive Development (ECID) project sponsored by Christian Aid and which is geared towards providing needed information and materials to rural farmers in hard-to-reach communities.
Speaking at the event, the executive director, Hope Givers Initiative (HOG-I) Mrs. Onyeka Okey-Udegbunam said the idea to donate rice seedlings to the farmers in Awka North was borne out of reaction to difficulties faced by the farmers in gaining access to some basic facilities that aid living.
She also said the organization distributed the items to the farmers having held a consultation on their major area of needs adding that the gesture will not only add to their productivity but help boost the farmer’s economy.
Speaking to Orient Daily, the representative of Christian Aid, Uzoma Uzor noted that the ECID project is aimed at working around data to promote the objectives of their target groups who she said are rural women, adolescent boys, and girls, people living with disabilities as well the marginalized. She said the project aims to promote the government’s use of data in planning such that they can capture the needs of the marginalized people in society.
While Uzoma maintained that Awka North is one of the target areas of the ECID project, she said people of the area have been annual victims of flood menace. She said the body gave the materials and trained the women to have a new start after the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their lives.
“Some of these women had a lot of challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So, by providing the fertilisers and rice seedlings, it will enable them to cope with the pandemic so that they can go back to their farming activities.
She said the training was necessary to equip the rural women with productive skills that they could use to support their families and children especially in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking to Orient Daily, one of the beneficiaries and a widow from Amanuke, Nwarienne Blessing Nonye, said that the gesture will help improve her farming activities. “Everybody in Amanuke, Ugbene, and Obaofemili knows me as a hardworking rice farmer even though I am a widow. I buy nothing less than 10 bags of fertilisers every year at a very high cost for my rice farm but all of these contribute to the high cost of farming.
Another rice farmer, Comrade Tagbo Valentine cited the government’s failure to encourage farmers especially farmers in rural areas who took agriculture as their major source of living.
“We have not experienced this kind of intervention from the government. If the nongovernmental organization could do this, then the government can do more. Farming is our means of livelihood and if they empower us farmers in Awka north, we have a lot to gain from it.
“We are lacking rice and cassava but if the government should borrow a leaf from the nongovernmental organisation and empower us, we will be encouraged in our farming.
Representatives from various communities in Awka North seized the opportunity to reel out challenges facing their towns and villages to their council chairman who was present at the empowerment program. Top on the list was a dearth of teachers in most secondary schools, poor drainage system, poor road network, and lack of water facilities.
Reacting, the council chairman, Hon. Ferdinand Onwuje assured to conduct a holistic investigation into the challenges reeled out by the communities with the hope to address them all.
While he commended Hope Givers Initiative for choosing Awka north as one of their project sites, he charged the beneficiaries to leverage on the support from the organisation. He urged the trained women to spread the knowledge they have obtained to their different communities.