The Federal Government has been charged to implement gender-neutral agricultural policies in order to improve the productivity of women farmers across the country.
The demand came from a group of farmers under the aegis of the Smallholder Women Farmers in Nigeria (SWOFON), who berated the high cost of farm inputs sold to them, resulting from gender imbalances.
According to the group, women are highly disadvantaged in terms of access to farm inputs and gender-friendly equipment, in spite of the fact that they represent up to 72% of the agricultural workforce.
“Smallholder women farmers are forced to source farm inputs from the open market at a higher overall cost, because of the gender inequality inherent in the distribution of fertilisers and improved seedlings,” the group stressed.
National President of the group, Mary Afan, called on the government to work towards gender equality in the agricultural sector, and also provide seedlings and fertilisers to the farmers at subsidised rates.
In her remarks, the group has mobilised 37,000 cooperative societies across the federation for the purpose of demanding equity in agricultural production from relevant government agencies.
She said, “With the National Gender Policy on Agriculture, today, there are 392,172 smallholder women farmers, who are organised into cooperatives across six geopolitical zones through relevant ministries for a better deal”
She explained that the association is committed to ensuring that President Buhari’s goal of bridging the gender divide and reducing women’s vulnerability in terms of gender relations, is actualised.
“The Federal Government recognises these facts in its recently launched National Gender Policy on Agriculture, and SWOFON, is an association of over 500,000 rural farmers spread across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT,” she said.
On the level of agricultural productivity in the country, Afan noted that the over-dependence on manpower in the agricultural sector has led to the decline in productivity level, as well as the spiraling poverty level in the country.