With the unemployment rate in Nigeria getting out of control, the federal government is focusing attention on agriculture to reverse the trend and also ensure food security.

Agriculture was neglected in the past despite its ability to contribute to Nigeria’s gross domestic products (GDP).

As a result of the lack of investment in agriculture and insecurity in most parts of the north, many families have had to rely on aid from donors to survive.

An initiative by an agric firm, known as Home Garden will enhance food production and food security and boost employment in Nigeria, writes Eromosele Abiodun

Recently, a report by the World Poverty Clock showed that Nigeria has overtaken India as the country with the most extreme poor people in the world. According to the report, 50 per cent of Nigerians are now living in extreme poverty which means living on less than $1.25 per day.

At this rate, experts believe the 2030 target for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set by the United Nations General Assembly and adopted by Nigeria will remain unachieved.

This, they warn, has an implication for all of us as it is hard to feel safe amid overwhelming poverty. “Chances are that, if the level of poverty in Nigeria continues to rise, it is bound to implode one day,” submits an expert, who does not want his name in print.

Speaking recently on the need for concerted effort to achieve the UN goals, the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, said, “We do not have a plan B because there is no planet B!”. We must find a way to solve the problems plaguing the world. One such problem is Goal 1 of the SDGs which is to end poverty in all its forms and another is Goal No. 2 Zero Hunger. ”

Meanwhile, experts believe multiple strategies are required to address the issue of food production and food security.

The choice of feasible approaches, they said, hinges on the existing social, political, and economic conditions and resources available to design and implement the intervention.

Taking the lead in this regard is a company who has devoted considerable effort to devise strategies to drive food production and food security.

Known as SENCE Agric, the organisation has developed a novel idea that will ensure that every family in Nigeria participates in the agriculture revolution by owing a garden.

“We are particularly passionate about these 2 goals as it resonates deeply with us and we see it in the people we meet on a regular basis. Our problem solving attitude was what gave birth to the ‘Home Garden’ idea. We believe that one way to positively impact the goals sustainably is through the development of home gardens. With a home garden, families can grow their food providing them with nutritious meals and reducing the amounts spent on food and where possible, sell the excess to generate additional income. With time, home gardeners can venture into proper farming, if they wish, using the skills they have developed over the years, thereby creating employment for themselves.

“Home gardens are also a time-tested local strategy that is widely adopted and practised in various circumstances by local communities with limited resources and institutional support, “the company said in a statement.

It added that the SENCE Agric home garden initiative seeks to: “Make it ‘cool’ to own a home garden so that more people will embrace the idea, encourage people and communities to start a home garden and teach farming techniques that can enable them to maximise space and grow food in what little space they have.

“We provide training and support for persons who already own a home garden, assist successful home gardeners with access to markets, organise community outreach programmes, where the opportunities and benefits will be discussed, provide technical support for people who wish to embrace the concept of a home garden and ensure sustainability through training on various aspects of running a home garden, including financial management and Food Safety.”

Home Garden Journey

“To begin our home garden journey, we started by organising a home garden competition which is about promoting the habit of “Growing What You Eat”. The competition is meant to showcase the people who through their home gardens are feeding themselves or the community. We emphasised that it isn’t about how big or small their garden is but what they have been able to do with the space they have. The winners get cash and other consolation prizes

“We’ve had the competition three times, the first in April 2019 and the fourth edition will run by December 2020. The competition is bi-annual but can increase when we get more sponsors to donate cash, inputs, tools, etc. From the competitions so far, we have gotten several requests and enquiries about the home garden. After much deliberations and discussions, we came up with the idea of creating a home garden club where people of different status irrespective of social class or education can discuss, share ideas and knowledge. The SENCE Agric home garden kicked off in July 2020,” it explained.

They added that the SENCE Agric Garden club aim to; promote eating healthy on a budget, saving money, the easy way and help people know what is in the food that they eat.

“We also collaborating with other enthusiasts to improve their skills, learning about plants and growing techniques and sharing resources. Everyone, who had interest or questions as regards home gardening formed members of the club. The club through its activities will promote home gardens provide tips and support to members, promote sustainable gardening practices.

“Share healthy recipes, as members you have access to the following benefits, access to garden inputs, garden set-up at discounted rates, once a year get-togethers, competitions, access to markets for excess products, garden support and advisory services and home garden events,” the company said.

They added that following the successful set-up of the home garden club, an outreach programme was initiated and a pioneer community was chosen which was the ILAJE FISH SELLER COMMUNITY in the Bariga area of Lagos state.

They added, “The community was chosen based on proximity, their lack of land space for growth and the fact that there is high poverty rate there, which might account to lack of proper or balanced nutrition.

“The outreach took place on the 17th of October,2020. The community was thought on how to grow in plastics bowls and buckets. We made them understand the relevance of growing their own food and what they stand to gain by doing so. Gifts were presented to the children. They expressed their joy and were thankful we chose their community to kick start the project. They asked us to visit more often, which we promised to.”