Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation (SWOFON) have attributed most challenges facing farming by women is the activities of “political farmers’’ while claiming that 70 per cent of farmers in Nigeria now are women.
This statement was made by the national coordinator of the group, Mrs Janet Adejoh, in Abuja.
Participants, who spoke with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews, in Abuja, said they were being short-changed.
Political farmers are commonly referred to as persons who are not farmers but often intercept credit facilities and other opportunities meant for real farmers, thereby denying them direct access.
They urged government at all levels and other stakeholders to explore ways to prevent the political farmers from hijacking benefits meant for them, as well as find lasting solution to challenges confronting women farmers.
Mrs Janet Adejoh, Benue State SWOFON Coordinator, said it was disheartening that real farmers, particularly women, were often short-changed when provided with inputs like fertiliser, herbicides and seeds.
She said part of the training was to draw up a plan for a national campaign to alert government at all levels and relevant stakeholders of such sharp practices and how they affect women farmers.
“We are going to have a national campaign in five selected states namely; Niger, Nasarawa, Oyo, Anambra and Jigawa.
“As women farmers, our voices are not heard. We are not included in the decision-making process to take a decision on our behalf, especially on budgeting.
“You know 70 per cent of the farmers in Nigeria now are women and yet when they want to prepare budget we are not there and sometimes we have the challenges of accessing inputs.
“Sometimes, when inputs are made the men will hijack it. We have a problem with land. You know women do not inherit land.
“Most times, we depend either on our husbands or we rent. So these are our challenges,’’ he said.
She further noted that, another challenge they have is waste.
“Many times you see a lot of oranges wasting along the road side. Sometimes they harvest but they do not have an access road to take their product to the market and sometimes there are no markets.
“It is the same thing with tomatoes. It is everywhere. Tomatoes were scarce at a time but if you go to the market now, a basket of tomatoes is less than N500. It is also the same thing with mango.
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“We need processing machines. We need value addition, we need capacity building on how to add value to our products so that we can start exporting to other African countries.
“By Oct. 15, we are going to march across FCT then the states will follow after’’.
SWOFON National Public Relations Officer, Mrs Olaleye Janet, urged the federal government to come up with agriculture policies that were friendly to women farmers and similarly introduce measures to check fake farmers.
She said, “we want the government to know that small holder farmers are existing. They have been dealing with political farmers that do not have land.
“We want to show them now that we are on ground in the 36 states of Nigeria.
“As women farmers, we have different problems. In some states, it is the problem of land. We always say our land is our life because if we do not have land we cannot farm.
“In some cases where we get land, there is no money, no access to funds. And even when you plant there will be nobody to buy. So, during rainy seasons, we have plenty of harvest.
She further said that secondly, they do not have access to accessible road to transport farm produce from the rural areas to urban centres.
“We want the government to give us modern gender friendly machine so that went can process our food. We also want the government to help us with the drainage.
“We also want female extension workers. The male extension workers are not able to come to the farm to teach us what to do but if we have female extension workers, they will explain things to us better.
She appealed to the government to allow women to be involved in agric policy and budgeting.
Olaleye urged the government to pay attention to the plight of women farmers, which according to her, make up about 70 per cent of farmers in the country.
She called for policies to cater specifically for women farmers, stressing that there should be more women farmers, youth farmers and men.
“Each time they give us fertiliser, for instance, if we are given 10 bags of fertiliser, hardly will they give us two. We want 50:50 to balance the equation, we also want the government to assist us with free interest loan’’.
Also speaking the Ebonyi SWOFON Coordinator, Mrs Agbafo Chinyere, called for concerted effort to assist women farmers to boost food production.
“We have financial problems as well as problems of not been recognised as women farmers. Women are very important. There is a song that goes that without women there will be no food on the table,’’ she said.
While commending the federal government and state governments for efforts to assist women farmers, Agbafo, said there is need to do more with regards to clear cut policies and laws in favour of women farmers.
Mrs Fatima Bello, Sokoto State SWOFON Coordinator said there was need for more awareness on the contribution of women farmers to national food security.
She said the campaign would be aimed at helping to send message to relevant stakeholders that women farmers were not being motivated as they should.
“We are here from all the states of the federation including the FCT to develop a work plan for the campaign that is coming up, to ensure that the voices of women farmers are heard and recognised,” she said.