The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has partnered with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to improve the nutritional status of rural dwellers in the FCT.
Mrs Aishat Abubakar, FCT Desk Officer, Agricultural Development Project (ADP), during the green field day event in Gwagwalada, said the project was a multi-sectoral approach to nutritional improvement.
According to her, the project is a pilot project for nutrition improvement in six communities from two area councils – Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) and Gwagwalada.
She explained that the project had three main areas of concentration namely agriculture, nutrition and livelihood improvement.
“The project is a technical cooperation between FCT and JICA, it is a five-year project which started in 2019 and will end in 2024.
“The project is in two phases; the first phase started in 2019 and ended in 2022 which was very successful. In the first phase, three communities from two area councils were involved,” she said.
She said that in this second phase communities from the six area councils were targeted but during selection period the issue of insecurity was much in Abuja.
Abubakar said that there was no option but to use AMAC and Gwagwalada which was used initially in the first phase of the project, adding that the target was 20 households each from the six communities.
“In this project we targeted six communities, four from Gwagwalada and two from AMAC and in each community 20 households known as the model group were trained on these three areas.
“These model group are expected to go back to their various communities and transfer whatever knowledge they have acquired from the project to other members of the community.
“Although our main target is children under 2-years-old, mothers and pregnant women and their family members”, she said.
According to her, the green field day is the agricultural aspect of the project where a demonstration site is mapped out in the six communities to train the model group on planting techniques.
She said eight crops were used for the project, to train them on types of crops, crop spacing, and fertilizer application among others.
Abubakar said that the major aim of the agricultural aspect was food availability to rural dwellers all year round, adding that the model group after the training would be given three crops of their choice.
She said that some of the crops are maize which is represents energy given food, soya bean or cow peas which represents protein and pumpkin or jute leaves (Ewedu) which represents vegetable.
“Our focus is in these three food groups which are energy given food, protein and vegetables, it is not about planting but planting what the body really needs.
“We are looking at the nutritional aspect of the crops they want to plant; some of them have a very vast land but end up planting just one crop and lacking in another.
“But with this training they will know which crop to plant and how best to plant it for food sufficiency all year round,” Abubakar said.
She said that after the training the list of crops would be given to the model group to choose three crops of their choice, considering the three food groups, also fertilizer and insecticide would be given to them.
She explained that it was expected of FCTA to upscale the project to other area councils at the end of its expiration.
Ms Khadijah Adebayo, Technical Project Staff, JICA, said that the purpose of the project was to develop the effective food based nutrition improvement approach in rural areas.
“We are building the capacity of FCT staff in our selected communities through training on nutrition, agriculture and livelihood improvement.
“The project is in two phases, in the first phase we trained three communities and in this second phase we are training people from six communities,
“These people will in turn train other members of the community,” Adebayo said.
Mr Innocent Ajeafobi, Director, FCT Agricultural Development Project (ADP), represented by Mrs Justina Ogumelen, advised participants to put into practice all they had learnt from the project for a healthy living.
Mr Usman Galadima, Lead Farmer for the project, appreciated the effort of FCTA and JICA for the great opportunity given to rural dwellers to improve their nutrition and agricultural standard.
Galadima said that with the program they would have enough balanced diets all year round.
“Under this program, we were taught foodstuff management, cash management, hygiene and how best to handle the environment.