Addressing the challenges faced by smallholder women farmers in the state, Life & Peace Development Organization (LAPDO) during its cluster start-up workshop facilitated the inauguration of agric gender-friendly policy development Technical Working Group (TWG) under the project titled: “Enhancing Inclusive Agricultural Governance through Small Holder Women Farmers participation in Agricultural Sector in Ondo State” supported by USAID and PIND.
During the workshop, the Wife of Ondo State governor, Mrs Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, who was decorated as the ‘Cluster Advocacy Change Champion’ promised to use her influence to support the successful implementation of the project.
In her speech, she lamented the significant gender inequalities between the male and female farmers, saying the global-gender pay gap indicates that women consistently earn 24 per cent income less than men.
“In Nigeria, although women make up about 75 per cent of the agricultural workforce, yet they are highly marginalized when it comes to opportunities to increase productivity.” Smallholder women farmers who constitute over 70% of the farm populace in Ondo state are faced with numerous challenges that limits their inclusion and growth in the agriculture sector.
She pointed out that the present administration had now given outmost priority to the agricultural sector by allocating 5.12 per cent to the sector in the 2017 budget and subsequently domesticated Agriculture Promotion Policy (APP) of the Federal Government. A new line item -Agro-Women Initiative was created in the 2018 budget to support smallholder women farmers.
Identifying the rich potentialities therein, she stressed that the Akeredolu-led administration is leveraging on agriculture as one of its major cardinal programmes for job creation and economic prosperity through strategic programmes such as Agriculture Transformation Agenda (ATA).
Aside this, the First lady who preened on herself as a farmer, added that the state government had also allocated about 150,000 hectares of land to boost cocoa, oil palm and cassava production, pledging maximum support by nominating a staff of her office as member of the TWG.
“These are in line with achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of eradicating poverty (SDG-1), ending hunger, achieving food security, improved nutrition and sustainable agriculture (SDG-2), and achieving gender equality and empowerment of women and girls (SDG-5).”
According to her, “If women have the same access to productive resources as men, they would increase the yields on their farms from 20% to 30%. This would result to increase in total output in developing countries like Nigeria by 2.5% to 4% per annum, and also reduce number of hungry people in the world by 12% to 17%.
“It is pertinent to invest in our women as the returns on such investments are huge with great multiplier effect. We cannot afford to do things the same way and expect a different result. It is high time we recognized our women as the mitochondria of the agricultural sector. The time for action is now,” she said.
Franklin Oloniju- Executive Director of LAPDO pointed out that the inauguration of the Technical Working Group (TWG) to develop agriculture gender-friendly policy is the first step in achieving sustained support for smallholder women farmers in the state, he revealed that “the project plans to work more in close collaboration with development partners, donor agencies and entrepreneurial organisations addressing women’s empowerment and progress to draw funds into the state for their use.”
The wife of the governor inaugurated the Technical Working Group and she advised them to put in their best to ensure that a comprehensive agriculture gender friendly policy was developed. The newly inaugurated TWG representatives are drawn from the state Ministry Department and Agencies (MDAs), financial institutions, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and other critical stakeholders including smallholder women farmers’ representatives.