• Lack of support hampers agricultural productivity, women’s livelihoods

From Abel Leonard, Lafia

Women farmers in Nasarawa State have expressed deep concern over the neglect and lack of support they face from both the government and commercial institutions during the farming season.

This was disclosed in a one-day Agricultural Show at the YMCA Mada Hills Secretariat, Lafia on Thursday organised together by YMCA Mada Hills, in collaboration with Oxfam Nigeria under the Together Against Poverty (TAP 2) initiative,

Daily Sun gathered that Many women farmers in Nasarawa, who contribute significantly to food production and household income, find themselves grappling with several challenges that restrict their productivity.

Despite their immense efforts, they lack access to crucial resources such as improved seeds, fertilizers, modern farming equipment, and financial assistance, all of which are vital for successful agricultural practices.

Speaking on behalf of the women farmers, Mrs Jummai Yohana, Chairperson, SWOFON Nasarawa State and also a prominent farmer in the region, voiced their grievances, stating,

“We feel neglected and marginalized. The government and commercial institutions seem to overlook our specific needs and the challenges we face in the farming sector. Without adequate support, it becomes exceedingly difficult for us to compete with larger farms and ensure sustainable livelihoods for our families.”

According to her the lack of access to quality inputs and credit facilities significantly affects their crop yields and profit margins. They assert that while government programs and schemes aimed at supporting farmers exist, the distribution and accessibility of these initiatives to women are limited, leaving them at a disadvantage.

Mrs Felicia Methusela representing ASSAPIN, explained the importance of gender-responsive policies, saying, “We urge the government and commercial institutions to recognize our unique needs as women farmers. Tailored policies and programs that address our challenges and empower us with the necessary resources will enhance our productivity and boost agricultural development in our state.”

Mrs Mary Onoja rep Ogbonge women stated that the neglect of women farmers not only impacts their individual livelihoods but also has broader implications for food security and economic growth in the region.

She said Studies have shown that when women have access to resources and are actively involved in agriculture, there is a significant increase in agricultural productivity and overall economic development.

Also contributing, to the historic event celebrating the contributions of women farmers in Nasarawa State, The Director of Women Affairs, Matayashi Aselema, expressed her delight at being a part of this significant occasion.

“Nasarawa State is known for its industrious and dedicated women who have played a vital role in the agricultural sector, contributing to both state and national economic growth. The Ministry of Women Affairs has been actively involved in enhancing the status of women in the state.”

Matayasha said last year, the ministry collaborated with Hassanta Integrated Enterprise, funded by USAID, to provide capacity-building training for women in fish farming. The participants received certificates upon completing the training, empowering them with new skills and knowledge in this sector.

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Furthermore, the ministry joined forces with the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs to organize a capacity-building programme for fifty women across the state. These women received training in animal husbandry and were each given a complimentary start-up grant consisting of two goats (one male and one female). This initiative aimed to support women in establishing their own animal husbandry ventures.

Additionally, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Women Affairs distributed farming items to women farmers across all 13 Local Government Areas of the state. This effort aimed to provide essential resources to women engaged in agriculture, further promoting their growth and success, she added.

In a notable welcome address delivered on behalf of the president of the YMCA, Rev Dr James Agot, the vice chairman, Mr Luka Alumaga, expressed gratitude towards the farmers and sponsors from Oxfam for their unwavering support of the women farmers exhibition.

During his speech, Mr Alumaga conveyed the YMCA’s deep appreciation for the farmers who have been instrumental in driving the agricultural sector forward. He emphasized the vital role played by these dedicated individuals in ensuring food security and sustainable development. “Their hard work and perseverance have not only contributed to the growth of the agricultural industry but also inspired many aspiring women to enter the field.”

Furthermore, Mr Alumaga extended his gratitude to Oxfam, a renowned international organization dedicated to fighting poverty and injustice. Their generous support and collaboration with the YMCA have been instrumental in empowering women farmers and promoting gender equality in the agricultural sector.

In addition to Mr Alumaga’s address, the executive secretary of the YMCA, Mr Ango Adamu, provided an overview of the organization’s initiatives. He emphasized the YMCA’s primary objective of fostering women’s empowerment and strengthening their expertise in agriculture.

Through various programs and projects, he said the YMCA aims to equip women with the skills, knowledge, and resources needed to build successful and sustainable agricultural enterprises.

Mr Adamu further highlighted the importance of promoting gender equity and inclusivity within the agricultural sector. By providing support and opportunities for women, the YMCA envisions a future where women can actively participate in decision-making processes and play key roles in shaping the agricultural landscape.

Earlier, Dr Alkali Maku the guest speaker spoke on the theme “Women as Key Actors in Advocacy for Economic Development.”

Alkali Recognizing the important role women play in advocacy, highlighted the focus of the women’s rights movement which is shifted towards addressing issues such as healthcare, reproductive rights, economic inequality, sexual harassment, rape, economic empowerment, girl child education, sexual and gender-based violence, peace-building, and adult education.

Furthermore, he said there is a need for advocacy efforts in agriculture which encompass policies, strategies, food processing, food security, and human rights.

“Advocacy activities involve various methods such as lobbying, protests, rallies, media campaigns, research projects, petitions, open letters, strategic events, community awareness-raising, and activism training.

“In the context of agriculture, advocacy activities encompass crop production, animal rearing, food processing, wage labour, trade, marketing, and other enterprises.”