The wife of Ondo State Governor, Arabinrin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu was honoured as the Cluster Advocacy Change Champion at the inauguration of Agric Gender- friendly Policy Development Technical Working Group, which took place at the Winners Guest House, Akure.
Akeredolu has affirmed that there are significant inequalities between women and men in many societies and stressed that though women make up about 75 percent of agriculture workforce, yet they are highly marginalized.
She further used the opportunity to highlight some of the challenges faced by women farmers’ as including consistent reduction in the budgetary allocation to the agricultural sector in the last seven years, non-capture of support for smallholder farmers as a line item in the ministry of agriculture budget, lack of state gender -friendly policies among others, lauding the administration of Arakunrin Akerdolu for identifying agriculture as one of its major cardinal programme for job creation and economic prosperity.
Stating that the government has initiated strategic programmes, such as Agriculture Transformation Agenda (ATA) and Development and Policy Implementation Committee report , which is in line with the goals of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)towards eradicating poverty and the Agro-Women Initiative is the first time ever that a line item in the agriculture budget is dedicated to support small holder farmers by the state government.
While promising to provide the needed supports towards ensuring that the initiative succeeds, Akeredolu thanked USAID/PIND and LAPDO for supporting the development of agriculture in the state which is geared toward closing the gender gap.
Mrs. Bose Eitokpa, the Capacity Building Manager of Partnership Initiative in the Niger Delta (PIND) Foundation, in her goodwill message, observed that the cluster partners being inaugurated is the first of its kind in Ondo State.
According to her, the aim of the initiative is to encourage gender inclusive agriculture and solicit inputs that will go a long way in achieving a legacy of sustainable peace and development among communities in the Niger Delta.
In his analysis, the Consultant, Kazeem Balogun , who explored Research findings on supportive environment for women farmers in Ondo State explained some of its findings in terms of policy and budget allocation.
In terms of policies, he observed that only 35% of women farmers benefited from one of the numerous empowerment of government and that 82% of women farmers acknowledged benefiting from NGO support programmes as government policies did not make room for people with disability.
While also noting that there has been no clear cut policy on agricultural financing, he however recommended the need for a new agricultural policy that will give room for new trends and also for deliberate investment to enable capacity building of farmers.
The Special Assistant to the Governor on Agriculture, Pastor Akin Olotu, while lauding the Akeredolu led government for taking up several initiatives in the agricultural sector noted that over 2,000 farmers will benefit from this project.
He also used the opportunity to highlight some other laudable achievement of the government.
Earlier in his message, the Head, PMRO, NIRSA, Akure, Akinyele Aluko expressed optimism that that the system being put in place will help alleviate poverty in Ondo State while also stressing that the initiative will help to bring women to the forefront.
The Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture, Hon. Towase Kuti in his remark stressed that the programme is a good initiative coming up at a critical time in the history of the state.
Hon. Kuti , who lauded the drive to encourage farming among the people, promised that his team will give support to whatever policies that emanates from the deliberations.
The Project Manager of ADP, O. Adeniyan while thanking the Akeredolu led government for creating a budget line for the Agro Women Initiative, he noted that it is the first in the history of Ondo State stressing that it will remain a landmark achievement for the government.
In his address, the Honourable Commissioner for Agriculture in the state, Otunba Adegboyega Adefarati highlighted some of the programmes embarked upon by his ministry geared towards developing agriculture which include collation of data of all farmers in the state, training of youths on cassava value chain, fish farming, rice production, cluster farming among others.
The Cluster Start-Up Workshop was put together by the United State Agency for International Development (USAID), Partnership Initiative in the Niger Delta (PIND) Foundation and Life and Peace Development Organization (LAPDO) to enhance inclusive Agricultural Governance through Smallholder Women Farmers Participation in Agricultural Sector in Ondo State.