By Gabriel Ewepu and Fortune Eromosele

A nonprofit making organization, Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation in Nigeria, SWOFON, Tuesday, raised the alarm over insecurity ravaging over 12.8 million Nigerians in 16 northern States of the country.

This was made known by the National President, SWOFON, Mary Afan, in a communique, at a two-day programme, organized by ActionAid Nigiera, AAN, in Abuja.

The 16 Northern States currently faced with food and nutrition challenges include Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Plateau, Taraba, Sokoto, Yobe, Zamfara and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.

According to the communique the food insecurity is as a result of climate change, insecurity, farmer/herder clashes, and COVID-19 pandemic.

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The communique reads in part: “According to the Cadre Harmonise report of March 2021, about 12.8 million people in 16 northern states are currently faced with food and nutrition insecurity due to climate change, insecurity, farmers and herders clashes, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Apart from these 16 northern states, other states are also faced with food and nutrition insecurity due to similar factors, while food and nutrition is further exacerbated across Nigeria through post-harvest losses of about N3.5 trillion annually.”

The communique further commended the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for establishing the National Gender Policy Desk to give women farmers robust space to practice agriculture, and also including SWOFON in the National gender steering committee for implementation of the gender policy in the agricultural sector.

 “We commend the 44th National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development (NCARD) for approving the domestication and implementation of the National Gender Policy in Agriculture in the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory.”

However, the According to the communique, the three tiers of government should commit ten percent of their annual budget to the agriculture sector to meet the ten percent Maputo/Malabo Declaration required to support at least six percent growth rate for the sector as postulated in the CAADP framework.

The communique also urged the state governments to allocate more public investments in agriculture to address the strategic areas of investments that would increase agricultural GDP to six percent.

“Humanitarian and food voucher interventions should be carried out across Nigeria while massive investments should focus on tackling post-harvest losses, climate change, insecurity, farmers and herders clashes to bring us out of this situation.

“State Ministries of Agriculture should constitute their State gender steering committee for the implementation of the Gender Policy in the agricultural sector, in a bid to offer equal access and gender-sensitive approaches towards food production.

“States should also create budget lines to fund the implementation of the National Gender Policy in agriculture, create specific annual budget lines for smallholder women farmers and ensure included in agriculture budget and policy making policy at all levels,” the communique pointed.

On the issue of implementation of the National gender policy in agriculture, for capacity building, the communique made it clear that SWOFON should be included into annual training of FMARD, State Ministries of Agriculture, Financial Institutions and Development Partners as captured in the policy.

“Female extension agents should be recruited by the state ministries of agriculture to fill the large gender gap in extension services and the farmers and extension agent’s ratio. Gender units at federal and in states in collaboration with relevant agencies should train smallholder women farmers on climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.

 “Federal and state governments should specially design capacity development programmes to improve the capacity of Smallholder Women Farmers on mitigation and adaptation Strategies against Climate Change and provide access to organic fertilizers and organic control of pest”, it added.

However, the communique urged Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to establish new mechanism and indicators for data collection, which should be gender sensitive, specifically reflecting the concerns of smallholder women farmers; federal and state governments should ensure analysis of all agricultural policies.

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