Nigerian women in the agricultural space have voiced their strides in the industry, stating that despite the smears of marginalisation, their productivity has been second to none.
In an exclusive chat with AgroNigeria on the occasion of the International Women’s Day which is celebrated globally every 8th of March, prominent women players in the agric landscape say that women are the lifeblood of the agriculture sector.
The women, who one way or another are contributing their quota to agriculture, have urged policymakers to steamroll their efforts and not sidetrack the women in policy drafting and implementation processes.
Women Leader of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), FCT, Mrs. Okafor Perpetual pointed that “Women constitute the major workforce in the agricultural space and for Nigeria to become a secured country, women must be given due consideration”
According to her, the marginalisation of women in Nigeria’s agriculture sector has been on the cards for long, as evident in the land-sharing system, where women are restricted from assessing lands due to gender bias.
She said the agricultural policies meant to serve all and sundry, are being colonised by their male counterparts.
“Take a look at many farmers’ associations in Nigeria, the men dominate key positions. They only allow for women leaders to an extent. If the men have their way they would scrap such positions to ensure that women are not heard,” she voiced.
Speaking in consonance with the AFAN Leader, Dr. Angela Eni, Associate Professor, and Country Director, West African Virus Epidemiology (WAVE) Project for Root and Tuber Crops, pointed that women have been a significant part of the agriculture sector, as they play a major role in ensuring productivity.
“Women are half the engine that runs the globe, no machine can function efficiently at 50 percent functional engine power.”
“Through my research work which is aimed at combating critical root and tuber viral diseases in order to protect and improve the productivity of these crops in ten Central and West African countries.”
Female Agripreneur and Director of Lubrigold Farm, Mrs. Barbara Ukpabi identified that gender imbalance has been a major challenge bedeviling women in agribusiness, especially women domicile in rural areas.
She remarked, “Women in Africa, not excluding Nigeria, are marginalised in the agricultural sector. The most important issue which causes the marginalisation of women in the agric sector is the lack of proper education, training, and information.”
On her part, Founder of the Sustainable Agro and Hunger Eradication Foundation (SAHEF) and Executive Director of AgroNigeria, Amb. Idongesit Mbaram, also added that most women have been deprived of the necessities to thrive in the agriculture sector.
She said several women in agribusiness have constantly decried the high rate of marginalisation in the sector, especially when it comes to land sharing.
The ED however assured that women are beginning to make giant strides in every facet of the economy. “This, to me, is the essence of the International Women’s Day – to remind us of how far we have come and why we need to keep moving,” she urged.
Agri-Finance – Special Package for Women
Mrs. Babara had earlier bemoaned the lack of financial provision for women to expand their business activities or add value to their subsistent level of production.
She said, “There should be financial provisions available to women at all levels of agribusiness. These provisions must come at very low-interest rates
“The government must ensure the training of women in enhancing their capacity in various levels of agriculture. There should also be funding at a low-interest rate and over a long period of time for repayment,” she advised.
Against this backdrop, South-West Zonal Manager of the Bank of Agriculture (BOA), Mrs. Idiat Folunrunsho pointed at the 4th Annual General Meeting of the Cassava Cottage Processing and Marketing Association (CACOPMAN), which held last week in Ibadan, that women are being offered loans without hesitation because they hardly default the terms.
In her words, “Women are accountable in business, there is a special package for women farmers, they usually don’t default loans, and they pay back”
Secretary of AFAN, Mrs. Abimbola Fagoyinbo-Francis, advised the government to put certain interventions in place in order to build the capacity of women farmers, as well as increase their number in the policymaking process of the country.
“Women are ready to take the bull by the horn,” she declared.