February 1, 2024

Food security drive focuses on gender inclusion – Minister 

Food security drive focuses on gender inclusion - Minister

Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari

…ActionAid calls on INGOs to join force to implement agricultural gender policy
…women farmers demand inclusion to achieve food security

By Gabriel Ewepu, Abuja

The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari, Wednesday, declared that the food security drive focuses on gender inclusion to achieve the Tinubu-led administration’s ‘Renewed Hope’ Agenda in food production.

Kyari stated this during the National Gender Policy in Agriculture Forum, held in Abuja.

Represented by the Director, Department of Human Resources, Oluwatoyin Alade, maintained that the Tinubu-led administration is poised to put resources into food security and climate change, including improving gender participation.

He said: “The Ministry is highly committed to the socio-economic empowerment of women and men in the sector, through various programmes and initiatives, there is renewed hope for food security, therefore, acknowledging that acting in line with the Sustainable Development Goals declaration. gender priority is a prerequisite for eradicating poverty and promoting a sustainable human development

“The Ministry’s intervention plan for food security includes the availability of fertilisers to farmers and households, massive employment and job creation in the agricultural sector, ensuring that all Nigerians can afford to eat, increase in exports revenue from food and agriculture, enhancing trade facilitation through cooperation with Nigerian customs and a lot more.”

Meanwhile, in a goodwill message, ActionAid Nigeria, AAN, called on International Non-Governmental Organisations, INGOs, in the agricultural sector to join forces in the implementation of the National Gender Policy in Agriculture.

The Deputy Country Director and Director of Programmes, AAN, Suwaiba Dankabo, said: “Our dearest Policy Makers & Stakeholders, as ActionAid Nigeria, we will continue to work with stakeholders, contributing our bit towards bridging the gender gap in the agricultural sector. 

“Please we invite some Country Directors of INGOs and Development Partners working on agriculture to pick 1 or 2 objectives of the policy to anchor with the National Gender Steering Committee for the Implementation of the National Gender Policy in Agriculture

“As part of our commitment to this process, in 2021, ActionAid Nigeria simplified the National Gender Policy in Agriculture for smallholder women farmers and produced the simplified version into infographics focusing on key provisions that speak to smallholder women farmers.”

In a presentation at the conference titled ‘Political Economy Analysis of Implementing the National Gender Policy in Nigeria’, the Food and Agriculture Programme Manager, ActionAid Nigeria Chair, National Gender Steering Committee for the Implementation of the National Gender Policy in Agriculture, Azubike Nwokoye, said, “Effective implementation of the National Gender Policy in Agriculture can close the gender gap in agriculture and rural labour markets, generate gains in agricultural output, increase food security, and foster economic growth.

“Policy reforms aimed at eliminating gender-based discrimination and promoting equal access to resources, services, technologies, markets and opportunities can allow women and men to equally participate in rural development, cope with challenges, and benefit from opportunities in the agricultural sector.”

In his recommendations, he counseled that, “States need to urgently set up their State Gender Steering Committee for the Implementation of the National Gender Policy in Agriculture.

“The Federal and State Governments need to urgently invest in small cottage processing and storage facilities in communities based on different commodities to be owned, operated, sustained, and expanded by smallholder women farmers cooperatives. This will help address the challenges of post-harvest losses experienced by smallholder women farmers across Nigeria.

“Trainings on post-harvest loss reduction for women farmers should be increased. Solar dryers should also be provided to smallholder women farmers cooperatives in communities based on agricultural produce that can be dried to save losses.

“FMARD and State Ministries of Agriculture should create a yearly Strengthening Access to Credit budget line: This funding should focus on: – This funding should focus on getting consultants or consultancy firms to support women, youths and farmers living with disability cooperatives to be able to navigate the too cumbersome access to credit in Nigeria. 

“The team or consultancy firm will handhold the cooperatives to access existing CBN agricultural credit facilities through preparing their business proposals, interfacing, and negotiating with BOA, Bank of Industry, NIRSAL, commercial and microfinance banks. 

“The team or consultancy firm will ensure that the cooperatives access such facilities and other services like extension, insurance, etc. and even market access and they are able to pay back at the end of each circle, etc.

“Government should address gender-based discrimination regarding access, control over land, and participation in land governance.

“Federal and State Ministries of Agriculture should organise town hall meetings with traditional and religious leaders and persuade them to give cooperative lands to smallholder women farmers to increase their access and control for increased productivity.

“Government should allocate land to smallholder women farmers’ cooperatives to boost food production.

“Government should urgently address the insecurity in the rural areas that is preventing smallholder farmers from accessing their farmlands for food production.

“Government should provide gender friendly appropriate labour-saving technologies for smallholder women farmers.

“Governments should invest in Agroecology to build the capacity of smallholder women farmers on climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies and make provision for to organic inputs such as fertilizers and organic pest control.”

While speaking on the sidelines of the conference, the National President, Small-scale Women Farmers Organisation of Nigeria, SWOFON, Fatima Gunmi, maintained that, “Without us there is definitely not going to be achievement in food security because we are the ones producing food in this country.

“The policy has been developed for over two years now but the contents have not been actualized. So what we want is implementation, effective actualization of the content of that agenda policy so that when you are talking about the agenda you are talking about the marginalization of women will want that by barrier broken. We want the system to change so that there is equity in whatever we are doing.

“So the women farmers should be included and also have their own share, and when they do that everybody is going to smile because we are going to have an increased productivity.”

Also speaking, the National Secretary, SWOFON, Chinasa Asonye, called for 50 per cent of the agriculture budget goes to women farmers, youth, and Persons With Disabilities, PWDs, to boost food production.

“We are over 500,000 women farmers, and as it stands now, they will be reviewing the policy and I feel that women farmers should be included in the policies of the of budget, for example, we said that the Malabo Declaration that 10 per cent of the budget should be set aside for agriculture but we are doing less than two per cent, and we are advocating that no matter how it is at least 50 per cent of the budget for the Sector goes to the women farmers, youth and Persons With Disabilities, PWDs, and when this is done it will help us produce more food in Nigeria”, Asonye stated.

The Chairperson, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja Chapter, and member of the National Gender Steering Committee, Perpetual Okafor, said, “To achieve food security cannot be a mere statement it needs to be worked out and working it out we know that the percentage of women in agriculture is higher than the men. 

“But the challenge that we all know is the same song that women are being shortchanged and so in order to declare the emergency declared by the President, I will urge Mr President as a father and father of all, and also a son of a woman to do the needful and ensure that whatever is meant for the women gets to the woman. 

“If there is a budget and specifically for the women, there should be a monitoring team. In any agency, that budget is there should be a monitoring team to ensure that the women actually get that what was meant for them not to only use their name for budgeting purposes, and the money gets to them, and the inputs in agriculture like fertilizer, access to land and the rest is achieved. Food security can be achieved as a team if those things are put in place.

“The right farmers are to be used, and they are in the rural areas, and institutions should be held accountable as monies are released and the drudgery is curtailed.”