Women small-scale farmers meet to discuss challenges

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Representatives of over two million small holder women farmers from across 36 states, on Monday in Uke, Nasarawa State, began a three-day training to address challenges facing women farmers.

The workshop, organised by the Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation of Nigeria  (SWOFON), is meant draw up a schedule on a planned national campaign to further drive home the need for women involvement in the agricultural sector.

The National President of SWOFON, Mary Afan, said the training was meant to build the capacity of the farmers on the planned campaign, scheduled to take place in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Niger, Anambra, Nasarawa, Jigawa and Oyo.

We want to embark on a campaign for increased investment in the agricultural sector, especially in favour of small holder women farmers.

“We want to organise this campaign in five selected states, sponsored by International Budget Partnership.

“We have called all 36 state coordinators and we are going to round it off with a national campaign which will hold in Abuja,” she said.

She said the campaign would focus on some challenges often faced by women in the sector including, “lack of access to finance, lack of access to input and one big challenge is access to land which is based on the culture and norms of our people.

“In most of the places women do not inherit land and as farmers we have a big challenge around that area because if you go into farming you either go into borrowing or you hire before you farm.

“We also advocate that government looks into such policies that deny the woman and the cultural norms to be changed.

“That is why we are in constant visit to the traditional rulers who are the custodians of culture to look into those norms that deny a woman from inheriting land.

“The campaign that is coming up is a very big campaign looking at the registered number of the members of our organisation.

“We have over two million registered farmers across the 36 states and we are trying to see how we can mobilise these women to come out for this campaign.

Afan said one of the major panaceas to achieving food security was to pay attention to the plight of small holder women farmers adding, “if you are talking about food security and you remove a woman from the equation you will not achieve it.

“Women are very key in the agric sector. If you talk of planting they are there, in harvesting they are there, processing they are there, marketing they are there.

“This is a very huge population why are they being neglected? That is why we want to make this one very clear to the general public.”

She stressed that if Nigeria was serious with meeting up with food security in 2030 and women were not mainstreamed, it would be difficult to achieve.

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