The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has joined hands with two not for profit organisations to promote increased women participation in agribusiness and drive wealth creation in Nigeria.
The ministry organised a two-day dialogue session entitled: ‘Nigerian Women in Agribusiness Stakeholders’ Dialogue’ on Friday with the two groups, Technoserve and Synergos Nigeria.
Technoserve is an international organisation offering business solutions, while Synergos –Nigeria participates in States Partnerships for Agriculture.
Speaking at the event, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, said women, who constitute half of Nigeria’s population and 75 per cent of agriculture labour force, must be accorded critical roles in the sector.
The minister was represented at the event by the Director, Extension Services Department of the Ministry, Karima Babangida.
“For the present administration’s goals of diversifying the economy and creating jobs through agriculture to materialise, there is need for more involvement of women in Agriculture,” Mrs. Babangida said.
“There is less than 30 per cent access to productive resources such as land, capital, inputs, technology and information for women in Agriculture and this contributes to productivity gap between female and male farmers in the country,” she said.
To achieve gender equality, she said there was a need for a National Action Plan on Gender in Agriculture.
TechnoServe Country Director, Larry Umunna, in his remark commended the ministry for supporting women and according recognition to their role in agriculture.
Mr. Umunna stated that TechnoServe has adopted a policy to ensure that 40 per cent of its project beneficiaries are women.
He said the group had been engaged in tackling rural poverty and offering market solutions to challenges facing crop production.
He said 10,000 farmers, 42 per cent of whom are women, had benefited from its cashew livelihood project in Kwara, Kogi and Oyo states in the last four years, a scheme he said has raised farmers’ income by 200 per cent.
Mr. Umunna said TechnoServe was providing tomato and rice farmers in four states with inputs such as fertilisers and improved seed varieties to increase their output and income.
He added that the project being carried out in Kano, Katsina, Jigawa and Plateau states was in partnership with Synergos Nigeria and that 3000 farmers were being targeted by the project.
For the Agriculture Sector to achieve the needed growth, Mr. Umunna said there was the need for improved data gathering and analysis.
In his remarks, Country Director, Synergos Nigeria, Adewale Ajadi, said women make up between 70 and 80 per cent of Nigeria’s labour force, but lamented that the country was not benefiting fully from its huge women population.
He said for Nigeria to reach its full potential in agriculture, women must be recognised and supported.
According to organizers, the groups are partnering in a project with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which aims to project the efforts and challenges of women agricultural practitioners in Nigeria to relevant government agencies, non-governmental organisations and private institution stakeholders, engaging them to proffer workable solutions in order to create a more conducive ecosystem for women farmers to thrive.