From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
As a part of the efforts towards the zero hunger goal of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and national food security, Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)’s Gender Consortium project, in collaboration with Value Seeds Limited, Palm Valle and Legal Awareness for Nigerian Women (LANW), is empowering 50,000 small holding women farmers and young persons within three years in Kaduna and Niger States.
To make this project sustainable, according to its organisers, there is the need for the representatives of smallholder women farmers groups to participate as advocacy groups at local government level towards domestication of the National Agriculture Gender Policy in Kaduna State.
The project, titled “The Enhancing Resilience and Up scaling of Gender Inclusive Rural Economy for Increased Productivity, Livelihoods and Food Security”, was developed to address the gender deficit in contributing effectively to food security and agricultural development thereby exacerbating poverty and stunting sustainable development in Kaduna and Niger States.
Speaking at the sidelines of the stakeholders’ consultation meeting in Kaduna, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Value Seeds Limited, Fashina Bisola said her company in partnership with others are working together to empower 50,000 small holding and youth farmers in three years in Kaduna and Niger States.
“In the first year, the target is 15,000, 25,000 in the year two and 10,000 in the year three of the project.
“We are targeting smallholding farmers because we know they have difficulties in accessing farm inputs, especially the women and youths who are the focus of this project due to their low earnings. So, Value Seeds will be giving them these inputs as loans and pay back with a part of the harvested farm produce.
“In addition to that, we will be helping them to process the grains into flour and other products that can give these farm produce a longer lifespan without putting the farmers at the mercy of gate buyers. This will encourage them to do better and at the same time improve their economy and standard of living.
“LANW will be advocating for these women and youths by bringing them together with other critical stakeholders so that their collective voices are heard which can translate into creating a specific budget line for them because they are the majority when we talk of local farmers,” she added.
The Director, Agric Services, Kaduna State Agricultural Development Agency (KADA), Mrs Jummai C Ambi, believed that the empowerment of the smallholding farmers especially women will go a long way in ensuring national food security, especially with the domestication of the national agriculture gender policy in Kaduna State.
“I’m excited about the plans to domesticate the National Gender Policy on Agriculture because I participated in the process about five years ago in Abuja. But, the policy has just been on the shelf and, when we look at the other policy structure in the past, gender is just mentioned casually without any deliberate plan for women.
“So, here in Kaduna State, we will look at our specific challenges and not just to look and talk about them, no, we have to be deliberate and strategic about funding some of the programmes so we can get results.
“Like we have been saying, women are 70 percent labour force in agriculture and at the same time, they are at the lower part of the pyramid in terms of earnings. They are the ones doing the planting, weeding, harvesting and bagging. But at the end of the day, the men will transport the produce, sell the produce and make good money while the women are left with peanuts. The policy will help address these gaps,” she noted.
On her part, the Director, Centre for Gender Studies, Kaduna State University, Prof Hauwau Evelyn Yusuf, noted that “a close study of Nigerian agricultural terrain has revealed that we have more women in agriculture. Unfortunately, the policy we have in place has not paid serious attention to these women.
“So, if we begin to look at the policy that is gender-inclusive as far as farming is concerned, it will go a long way in enhancing productivity and give women the sense of belonging.”