By Gabriel Ewepu and Fortune Eromosele
Peeved by the spate of famer/ herder crisis in the country, the Small Scale Women’s Farmers Organization in Nigeria, SWOFON, Thursday, disclosed that Nigeria accounts for post-harvest losses of about N3.5 trillion annually, lamenting that such a loss impedes growth of the agricultural sector.
The National President, SWOFON, Mary Afan, made this known in a communique signed by her, which was issued at a two-day meeting in Abuja, to popularize the National Gender Policy in Agriculture for smallholder women farmers, in partnership with ActionAid Nigeria.
Afan highlighted that, according to the Cadre Harmonise report of March 2021, about 12.8 million people in 16 northern States of Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Plateau, Taraba, Sokoto, Yobe, Zamfara and the FCT are currently faced with food and nutrition insecurity due to climate change, insecurity, famers herders clashes and the COVID-19 pandemic.
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He said “Apart from these 16 Northern states, other states are also faced with food and nutrition insecurity due to similar factors like insecurity, while food and nutrition insecurity is further exacerbated across Nigeria through post-harvest losses of about N3.5 trillion annually.”
On key recommendations to soothe farmers/herders clashes, the communique said “Humanitarian and food voucher interventions should be carried out across Nigeria while massive investments should focus on tackling post-harvest losses, climate change, insecurity and farmers herders clashes.”
The communique read: “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 create budget lines to fund the implementation of the National Gender Policy in Agriculture. States should create specific annual budget lines for smallholder women farmers and ensure total release.
“Smallholder women farmers should be included in agriculture budget and policy making processes at all levels.
“On the implementation of the National Gender Policy in Agriculture: For capacity building, SWOFON should be included into annual trainings 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.
“The gender unit of FMARD should 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 gender equity, through periodic impact analysis of all agricultural policies, programmes, projects, and activities on smallholder women farmers. Federal and State Governments should eliminate all forms of culture or religious based Gender biases in Agriculture.
“The government need to urgently review the Land Use Act to address the issues of gender discrimination in land ownership.
“FMARD and State Ministries of Agriculture should provide appropriate labour-saving technologies for smallholder women farmers through the Green Imperative Project and other programmes. Federal and State Governments should support smallholder women farmers with training on Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture at the household level.”
Addressing newsmen, ActionAid’s Food and Agriculture Program Coordinator, Azubike Nwokoye said the meeting came as a result to help small scale women farmers in Nigeria understand the policy and place demands based on the policy.
He said that “We don’t want it to go the way other policies have gone, because nobody is placing demand. For the Agriculture sector, we are ensuring to support the small scale women farmers across Nigeria to understand the policy and be able to engage with it in their advocacy engagement.
“We are happy that both federal and state governments, especially FMARD and the State Ministry of Agriculture are listening to the demands of small scale women farmers and we are sure that within this policy they would actually provide a lot of support and response to them when they start to engage with the policy.”