Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA), a Non-Governmental Organisation collaborating with the Gombe state Agricultural Development Project (GSADP) on Saturday empowered rural women farmers in Maiganga community, Akko Local Government Area of Gombe state, with improved seedlings and training on nutrition.
Mr Idris Garko, the Senior, thematic Coordinator, Crop Productivity Enhancement, Sasakawa (SSA) Global 2000 Nigeria project, said part of the focus of their visit to the community was on nutrition, stressing that the training and improved seedlings provided to the women were key to food security.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Garko said the project had done a lot on production and post-harvest handling, but the strategy had now shifted to nutrition because ”it is good we eat what we grow and know the nutritional content of what we eat.”
He said: “The women’s group was selected because women play important roles in the value chain, as they are involved in production, post-harvest handling, processing, marketing and consumption.
“Another reason for choosing women was the fact that many families in rural areas are poor and since government is working toward poverty alleviation, we are here to complement that effort.”
Garko appealed to farmers to embrace the use of improved seedlings as “without that, we cannot attain food security and increase farmers’ income, which in turn reduces poverty.”
Mr Moshood Sulaiman, programme officer, SAA post-harvest handling and agro-processing, said processing remained a key aspect of the agricultural value chain as it provides income for farmers and varieties for women to feed their households, and derive more benefits from the vocation.
“In rural areas, malnutrition is a serious issue and that’s why we are here to teach them how to process their soybeans and how to balance their diet with their local produce.
“We have been in this community for years and as you can see, their children are looking very healthy and strong because of the nutritional balancing training we have been giving them,” he said.
Mrs Regina Sodu, Deputy Director, Women in Agriculture, GSADP said 25 women were trained initially in soybeans cultivation, processing, and adding value to their produce, for the use of the family and for income.
“This is important in agriculture, as money is lost when you sell off produce without processing.”
While commending SAA, the deputy director appealed to the NGO to extend the programme to other communities in the state, so that more rural women could benefit.
One of the beneficiaries of the programme, Mrs Magdalene Isiaku commended SAA and GSADP for providing them with improved seedlings and training on processing and marketing.
Isiaku, a soybeans farmer, told NAN that she was happy to be one of the farmers that was empowered, adding, “I am now happy because I am now richer after harvest, compared to the time that I used to farm without any knowledge of how to process my soybeans.”
The mother of three said that her income from her soybeans farming had risen from N20, 000 to nearly N50, 000, while she was able to also process her soybeans into food for her children.(NAN)