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Nigeria food security: Experts seek support for women farmers

Published 28 Aug,2020 via The Nation - Empowering women-farmers would Nigeria’s attainment of food security, experts have urged the Federal Government.

They said when women farmers are supported and empowered with education, information, finance and land, they are capable of exponentially increasing the nation’s food production capacity.

They spoke at the Movement for Women in Lagos State Institutions for Good Governance (MOWLAS) 2nd Webinar Series titled: ‘Post Covid-19: Role of Women in Gender Equity and Agriculture’.

The speakers, including Prof. Adeola Animashaun of the Lagos State University, Dr. Olubunmi Adewusi of Caleb University and Dr. Victoria Adenle-Saheed from Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH), agreed that, in spite of their equal participation in farming, women have often been marginalised in accessing farming resources.

The implication of this, they said, is that their earning power in the sector is diminished.

The MOWLAS Webinar Series, convened by Former Acting Vice Chancellor, Lagos State University, and Director, Directorate of Advancement of the institution, Prof. Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello, was moderated by Provost, Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education (AOCOED), Prof. Bidemi Lafiaji-Okuneye.

Delivering a paper entitled: “Women and Food Security”, Dr. Adewusi, opined that the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on agriculture are huge and far-reaching, adding that they have compounded hunger and food insecurity in Africa.

According to her, women account for about 50 per cent of players in the agricultural sector and are directly and indirectly involved in crop and livestock farming, transportation, marketing and sales, and processing of farm produce.

They also play the role of providers in many homes, and were responsible for the feeding of the household from their farming practices.

These, she said, does not preclude them, especially those from developing countries, from facing various challenges such as gender discrimination and bias, lack of education, lack of good healthcare, low access to loan facilities, and lack of child care support system, even as 820 million of people from the affected nations are undernourished.

Dr. Adenle-Saheed corroborated Adewusi’s suggestion, urging the government and other stakeholders to address the setback by protecting the rights of women as spelt out by the law, ensuring equitable allocation of land to women for farming purposes, assisting them with finance, free healthcare and farming equipment, and providing other incentives such as maternity leave and pension scheme.

Prof Animashaun, who spoke on “Finance and Risk Management in Agriculture”, said in spite of making up to 50 per cent of farmers worldwide, women only own 20 per cent of farm lands, and have less access to credit and information.

She added that female farmer can get financing for their for their agriculture activities through personal saving, equity, grants, commercial loans from banks, revolving funds, fintech and subsidised loans, and agriculture value chain and financing.

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Food Security
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Robert Egbe