The Executive Director of National Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation (NCAM) Ilorin, Dr Yomi Kasali yesterday said the true gauge to measure the growth of Nigerian agricultural system remains the percentage of the women population participating in the activities of the sector.
Dividing agriculture into three main folds of those at the field, the processors of the produce and the marketers of the processed materials, Kasali lamented the alleged low level of women participation just as he canvassed policies that would engender more female active involvement in the sector.
He spoke at the opening ceremony of the skill acquisition and empowerment training for women in the use, operation and maintenance of Agro-processing machines, bankrolled by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and held at the NCAM.
According to him, “agriculture is an engine for growth and poverty reduction in any human society, and a foundation for industrial revolution, but the sector is under performing in many countries, Nigeria inclusive, because women, face challenges that often limited their productivity. I think it is high time for us to change the ugly trend. ”
He added that women are noted for making essential contributions to agriculture and rural economy in various ways noting that over 90 per cent of women in rural areas have potentials to be engaged in any sub sector of agriculture.
Over 60 women across 36 states of the federation are participating in the intensive training that is scheduled to last the next two weeks.
For Kasali, “women work in Agriculture as farmers, processors and as marketers. They produce livestock, food and cash crops, at subsistence and commercial level. Based on a recent internationally comparable data, women comprise an average of 43 per cent of the agricultural labour force of developing countries.
“In Africa women constitute almost 50 per cent of agricultural labour force. According to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO, 2010) women in Sub-Saharan Africa have relatively high overall labour force participation rate and the highest average of agricultural labour force in the world. This is because the cultural norms in Sub-Saharan Africa have longed encouraged women to be economically self-reliant and substantially responsible for agricultural production.”
The NCAM boss underlined the imperatives of the domination of traditional African women in the processing aspect of agricultural produce believing that new generation of women have indispensable role to play in agricultural production.
He added, “In this training, you will all be impacted with skills and equipped with the necessary knowledge capable of solving the general constraints of agricultural processing, and further boost agricultural productivity and diversity in a bid to enhancing your capability and income generation potentials.”
NCAM has been in the vanguard of women empowerment and skill acquisition in agricultural production in the country. One of its core mandates is to tender quality training, capable of ending the drudgery and challenges attached to any aspect of agricultural production.