- BY REMILEKUN DARAMOLA in Maiduguri•
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the European Union (EU) have launched a massive Aquaculture Support Programme (ASP) for the economic emancipation of troubled Borno State.
The programme, which is to be replicated in other affected states of the North East, was launched in Gongulong community in Jere local government area of the state.
Speaking during the launch, FAO Representative in Nigeria, Mr. Suffyan Koroma said: “Today, it is my honour to officially launch FAO’s Aquaculture programme in Gongulong, which is part of a larger European Union Trust Fund programme to assist close to 100,000 households in Borno to restore their livelihoods in agriculture – farming, livestock, fish production and agribusiness between 2018 and 2021.
He lamented that “the armed insurgency in the northeast has resulted in the disruption of fishing livelihoods, an important source of income, especially for households dependent on Lake Chad.”
He said: “For households affected by the insurgency, especially those formerly engaged in fishing, FAO believes that aquaculture-based activities will provide a meaningful way out of poverty and help families to become independent of humanitarian aid while moving towards self-reliance.
“Today’s initiative will support 30 households across Jere LGA, of which 10 households in Gongulong are represented today. A further 20 households in Monguno LGA have also received these fish farming kits to begin new livelihoods.
“FAO hopes its aquaculture programme will have a multiplier effect in Gongulong and other communities, by empowering youth who will then employ and empower more members of their communities.”
He explained that: “Fish production is an important source of economic diversification and nutrition and will provide profitable income streams for the individuals participating in our aquaculture programme.”
He said: “Under the European Union Trust Fund-financed project for Borno State, FAO is targeting youth, both males and females. We plan to engage 200 male-headed households in fish farming in 2019, and train and equip a further 100 female-headed houses in fish processing and marketing within the State.”
Koroma disclosed that: “Today’s group has been equipped with fish farming starter kits including a fish rearing tank, fish feed, fish juveniles, water pumps and numerous other important accessories that will enable immediate fish production.”
He said: “To the individuals of today’s aquaculture programme, FAO will continue to lend its expertise and support to you in the months and years to come. We wish you heartiest congratulations on this new livelihood venture as you strive to transform your lives and that of your community through fish farming.”
Also speaking at the launch, the Borno State Commissioner for Animal Resources and Fisheries Development, Dr. Toma Ringiya commending the efforts of FAO and it’s partners toward the financial emancipation of the people of Borno, said this programme is very optimal and timely considering the level of devastation suffered by communities in the state as a result of insurgency.
The commissioner, who was represented by a director in the ministry, Alhaji Dahiru Mohammed, said, “it is, therefore, a good initiative and commendable, it would go a long way in cushioning the hardship of the targeted beneficiaries.”