Commissioner pledges support for women farmers

 Mr Gideon Shaban, Kwara Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, has pledged the readiness of the state government to support smallholder women farmers to achieve food sufficiency.

Shaban gave the pledge on Monday in Ilorin when the leadership of the state’s chapter of Smallholder Women Farmers’ Organisation in Nigeria (SWOFON) paid him a courtesy visit.

According to him, helping farmers is a necessity considering the crucial roles they play in the agriculture value chain.

The commissioner commended women farmers for coming together to form a formidable team to advance their causes.

He promised to help to train them in management and to enlist them in various agriculture programmes, particularly FADAMA and dry season rice farming.

Earlier, Mrs Bose Anifowose, Coordinator of SWOFON in Kwara congratulated Shaban on his appointment into the state’s cabinet.

Anifowose noted that women farmers were formed into more than100 cooperative societies contributing to the economic development of the state in the area of agriculture value chain.

She advocated for gender-specific agriculture budgeting that take care of the peculiar plight of women farmers.

Smallholder women farmers, she said, constituted between 70 per cent and 75 per cent of the workforce in the agriculture value chain.

“We specifically request for gender-friendly equipment/processing machines for improved with labour.

“We also want farm inputs such as fertilisers, improved seedlings and chemicals among others.

“Kwara should liaise with the Federal Government so that SWOFON can benefit from special intervention funds,’’ she said.

Similarly, Mr Abdulrahman Ayuba, State Coordinator, Scaling-Up Investment in Agriculture (SUPIA) projects advocated 10 per cent provision for agriculture in the yearly budget of the state in line with Maputo/Malabo declaration.

The Maputo Declaration was made in 2003 by Africa’s of State and Government, setting broad targets such as 6 per cent annual growth in agricultural GDP.

It also called for the allocation of at least 10 per cent of public expenditures in African countries to the agricultural sector.

Ayuba, who is the Executive Officer of the Centre for Empowerment and Poverty Eradication, said that SUPIA project, funded by ActionAid Nigeria, sought support for agriculture sector, particularly for smallholder women farmers.

He said that the project committee work with the state to achieve the objective of the 10-year agriculture plan in the state and also to popularise the National Agriculture Gender Policy. (NAN)