By Ginika Okoye and Kudirat Musa
Abuja – The Federal Government has unveiled the National Gender Action Plan on Agriculture to support and empower women farmers to move from subsistence to commercial farming.
Unveiling the plan in Abuja on Thursday, Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the plan would turn around the fortunes of women in the agricultural sector.
Ogbeh, represented by Dr Abdulkadir Mu’azu, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, said the plan would facilitate the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1 and 2.
The minister noted that women farmers contributed more than 65 per cent of the people that fed the nation.
According to him, women have access to only about 20 per cent of the productive resources or finances in agriculture.
He listed some challenges faced by women to include lack of farm inputs, farm machinery, inadequate access to land, insecurity, among others.
“This is a testimony to gender equality and women empowerment even at the highest level of government.
“The aim is to build the capacity of women farmers to transit from subsistence to medium and large scale farming.
“Women remain the anchor of the nation’s agriculture and they contribute to the development of the sector as evidenced that out of the 95 per cent small-scale farmers, 70 per cent of them are women,’’ he said.
Ogbeh said that the plan would facilitate a coordinated approach to interventions in the sector to track results and deepen impact for the targeted group.
He called for the political will and support from state governments and institutions to implement the plan.
Mr Adewale Ajadi, the Country Representative of Synergos Nigeria, one of the facilitators of the plan said that women constituted the majority of people that produced food across the country.
“Majority of people who make decisions on what we are eating are women, significantly, this is to make sure that women are not just given the chance to make choice but to have a voice.
“Women are critical; the transformation of the role women in Nigeria is the transformation of agriculture.
“We are having challenges on food security but we waste a lot of our products due to post harvest losses.
“The post-harvest waste is about to 60 to 70 per cent, the issue is that if we can take care of food waste, then we have a lot to do in the commercial environment,’’ Ajadi said.
Analysing the gender plan on agriculture, Mrs Karima Babangida, the Director, Extension Services in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the plan would facilitate food and nutrition security.
Babangida noted that it would also enhance value chain approach and sector governance.
“This plan will answer the question of how women will be supported to promote food quality, knowledge transfer and make women voices to be heard,’’ she said.
Mr Azubike Nwokoye, the Food and Agriculture Programme Coordinator of ActionAid, Nigeria, said that the organisation would continue to support women farmers to move them out of poverty.
“We will always support moves to engage, empower smallholder women farmers across the country,’’ he said.
Some small scale women farmers who spoke at the event, called for prompt implementation of the plan.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Mrs Aisha Buhari, Wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, was represented at the even by Hajia Hajo Sani, Senior Special Assistant to the Wife of the President. (NAN)