The Federal Government in partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and other donor programmes is making plans to establish a gender network to be called the Nigeria Agriculture Gender Network (NAGN).
The partnership under the Federal Government of Nigeria/IFAD Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) seeks to “to enhance knowledge sharing, promote experience and information exchange among donor-funded agriculture/rural development programmes in Nigeria in respect to women, youth and other vulnerable groups.”
National Programme Coordinator of VCDP, Garba Bala, explained that NAGN as a national network aims to provide peer support structure, learning and experience sharing opportunities among donor-supported agricultural projects.
“It is expected that the platform will showcase and reinforce the Project’s work in furthering women’s empowerment and gender equality.
“It will provide strategic opportunities for collaboration in advocating for appropriate policies that could help foster gender equality and transformation,” Bala told AgroNigeria.
To launch NAGN, Bala said, a four-day knowledge sharing workshop has been arranged by the VCDP.
The workshop, with the theme: Sharing Good Practices and Lessons for Integrating Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture, holds Monday October 12th – 15th.
Bala explained, “The forum will bring together women and youth and gender focal points in donor-funded programmes and projects, government, development partners and other stakeholders in the agricultural sector to interact and foster partnerships needed to ensure that gender transformation is achieved.
“It will also allow new projects to learn from on-going projects’ experiences by cross-fertilizing ideas and enhance their operations and fulfilment of their mandates
“The knowledge sharing workshop is a four-day activity consisting of an opening session, a field visit to Niger – one of VCDP participating states and a closing session.
“On the first day, there will be presentations and discussions from invited programmes on their implementation approaches and some of the activities undertaken by the projects, programme impact, challenges and lessons learned from the experiences including recommendations.
“The participants will undertake a learning visit on the second day to see successful models on women economic empowerment from the VCDP in Niger state. The fourth day will be a wrap up session with a launch of the Network and action plan for the Network.”
Fighting gender inequality in agriculture
In October 2019, the Nigerian Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, launched the National Gender Policy in Agriculture.
Nanono during the project launch in Abuja had said the policy document was aimed at drastically reducing the vulnerability of women to biases in farming, bridge gender gap, and also address the unequal gender power relation in the sector.
According to the World Bank and the United Nations statistics, women constitute a large part of agricultural labour in Africa, making up as high as 40% of the workforce in the sub-Saharan region.
The UN Regional Information Centre for Western Europe (UNRIC) says that women living in rural areas in developing countries make up around 43% of the agricultural labour force.
The Centre in a report notes that empowering women farmers, including through ensuring their access to productive agricultural resources, is critical for achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2: Zero Hunger.
In addition, it adds that women are constantly bedeviled by challenges such as lesser access to assets and inputs.
“But women own fewer assets (land, livestock, human capital), and have less access to inputs (seeds, fertilizer, labor, finance) and services (training, insurance) than men.
“To further complicate things, equal access to resources does not guarantee equal returns for women farmers,” the World Bank, on its part, observes in a report.
Meanwhile, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has continued to restate its efforts to bridge gender inequality and representation gaps for women and other vulnerable groups in Sub-Saharan Africa.
In 2018, over 40 parliamentarians from West Africa joined forces to create the ECOWAS Network of Parliamentarians on Gender Equality and Investments in Agriculture and Food Security.
The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), an action-plan framework launched in 2003 as a blueprint for the transformation of African agriculture, also advocates for greater inclusion of women in agriculture.