Women farmers have called on the federal and state government to give more support to farmers especially the women folk in order to make them more productive and ensure food security in the nation at large.
The women who spoke in separate media parleys with DAILY INDEPENDENT, said supporting women farmers across the country is very important as they form about 70 percent of farmers across the value chains in the country.
They called on government to assist them in the area of funds, grants to aid their production and other initiatives that would make farming easy and interesting, stressing that this is the period farmers really need government assistance in order to increase food production and self-sufficiency in food production.
Ariori Rachael, Managing Director of Manna House Foods who is also the Vice Chairman, Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI) Lagos State Chapter, said one of the major challenge is bad roads, and that there is no way there will be food security without good roads.
“Imagine if one carries her food produce for hours in the hold-up because of bad roads, the produce will get spoilt, there are lot of infections that would come in contact with it because of the long stay on the roads and in the sun, and the integrity of the produce might be compromised.
“For us to end hunger and poverty, we must ensure that the food chain is intact and running because when people are satisfied with good foods, definitely they will perform optimally,” she said.
Ariori also said finance is another major challenge, stressing that women have good products but are limited with lack of finance to run the business effectively.
“Access to market is another problem. Government should be the institution that will be buying the large chunk from us; they should encourage those of us in the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
“For us to have food security, government should empower people in the SMEs, give us grants and not loan. If I have more grants I will do more and there will be more food, there will be more money to produce in large quantity and the price will crash so that an average man will be able to afford to eat,” she added.
Also, Alhaja Mulikat Ogunlola, President, Lagos State Women in Agriculture Association, commended the state government for its continuous support to farmers through seedlings and inputs supply, empowerment, equipment and training.
She said government should not relent in its quest to empower and support women especially in the area of finance which women farmers are yearning for.
She said though some of the women in the association have benefitted from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) programme while some have not benefitted.
In the area of export, she said lot of women farmers are still not getting it right with the requirements for the export market thereby calling on the government to train and retrain women farmers in exploring the export market in order to earn more exchange for the country.
Dr. Shakirat Babatunde, Director of Coconut Farm Associate, who is also an exporter said government is doing a lot in supporting farmers, but that the communication aspect of government’s effort is not enough as many farmers are not always aware of government interventions which they can benefit from.
She advised government to ensure that their programmes and initiatives are well communicated to those at the grassroots rather than concentrating only on the elites in the society.
Babatunde, who is also the Head Farmer of ‘Iwe Kiko Pelu Oko’ (IKPO) Vocational School said the school runs programme for children from age 12 free of charge where they are taught how to farm and are given lands to plant on their own.
“At the school we encourage young people on farming and what they stand to benefit in farming. We let them know that they can become rich being farmers and also let them know that there are many millionaire farmers and exporters worldwide who they can also emulate,” she said.