By Chimezie Godfrey
The Federal Government has distributed free agricultural inputs to 7,500 women farmers in the Federal Capital Tertiary (FCT) to mitigate the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development,( FMARD), Sabo Nanono stressed that the roll out would enable Smallholders Women Farmers build production assets, create jobs achieve food and nutrition security.
Nanono stated that Mr. President’s desire is to ensure easy access to quality food and nutrition by Nigerians and to upscale the production capacity of the Nigerian women farmers towards attaining a stable household.
The Minister said that the Ministry is making genuine efforts towards challenging the unequal access to productive inputs between men and women by rolling out distribution of inputs to women smallholder farmers and processors as part of our commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment in the agricultural sector.
He said the ministry is deliberately undertaking initiatives aimed at promoting gender equality and empowerment of women in line with the targets set in the Economic Sustainability Plan, Agric Gender Policy, National Gender Action Plan (N-GAP) for Agriculture, Agricultural Sector Food Security and Nutrition Strategy Documents aimed at ensuring increased opportunities for women.
Nanono said,’’The Ministry is supporting the women with value kits (planting materials, growth enhancer and agro-chemicals) in yam, cassava, potatoes, soybean, rice, maize, sesame, ginger, sorghum/millet, cowpea and horticultural crops.
“In addition, nutritional value kits will be distributed to the women today.
“The choice of the crops is based on comparative advantage to its production. Again, because women are disadvantaged in land inheritance in Nigeria, the use of sacks and vertical farming are being popularized and the techniques would be demonstrated’’.
The minister emphasized that besides the distribution of inputs to the women, the ministry is also distributing production and processing equipment in an effort to reduce drudgery, improve efficiency, reduce cost of production and improve quality of product and produce from the operations.
He urged the beneficiaries to make judicious use of these inputs, materials and equipment to produce quality food for the nation.
He called on other stakeholders to provide similar support to farmers so that together we can defeat hunger/poverty in the country and become self-sufficient in food and raw material production as well as mitigate some of the negative effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The Minister reiterated that the Ministry and its research institutions are working towards making Nigeria self-sufficient in good quality seed and its availability to farmers as a foundation for attaining food and nutrition security as well as industrialization.
Nanono further said that government making concerted efforts to improve rural infrastructure such as rural roads, boreholes, irrigation facilities, solar lights, markets that are enablers for improved agricultural performance for our farmers and processors active in the rural space.
The Special Guest of Honour and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, pointed out that women farmers in the FCT and across the country have remained steadfast and done their best to keep the local economy afloat by still tending to the farms for as much as the Pandemic restriction will allow.
Bello stressed that the agricultural inputs being received will no doubt enable the women smallholders farmers to scale up their production activities and boost agricultural yield in the FCT’’.
In another remark, the Mother of the Day and Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, appreciated the Ministers of Agriculture ,Water Resources and the FCT for supporting the women in their respective ministry’s activities and Programmes.
According to her, women are key to development of Agriculture and other sectors of the economy.
Ministers of Humanitarian Affairs , Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Farouq , Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige and Water Resources, Engr Suleiman Adamu commended the Ministry for free distribution of the agricultural inputs to smallholder farmers generally and the women groups in particular, stating that it will go a long way to mitigate the losses they suffered as a result of the pandemic.
They assured of the Federal Government’s commitment in ensuring that Nigerian women are always supported to attain their potentials.
In his welcome address, the Minister of State, Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Shehuri said the event was part of the ministry’s efforts to work hand-in hand with State Governments and other relevant stakeholders to assist in ensuring food security, economic growth and job creation, especially in the face of COVID-19 Pandemic.
Shehuri said,”It has been established that if the country wants to exit from its mono economy which is crude oil, it has to make a major impact in the agricultural sector, and if well harnessed will bring about reduction in unemployment, create wealth and food security’’.
While giving the vote of thanks, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe noted that the exercise is unique and significant because the focus is on women, knowing fully well that when a woman is empowered, the empowered.
Umakhihe emphasized the importance of seed, in farming. According to him, ‘’Seed is the foundation of good yield and high productivity in any agricultural value chain.
“This is to underscore its importance that we are here today to formally roll out seeds and other inputs distribution to our farmers to signal the importance attached to farming activities in the nation’’.