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Small-scale women farmers canvass increased budgetary allocation to agriculture

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 A coalition of female farmers under the aegis of Small-Scale Women Farmers Organisation in Nigeria (SWOFON), has decried Federal Government’s indifferent attitude to small scale farmers across the country.

In a statement released by Mary Afan, the group’s spokesperson, SWOFON lamented the vote reduction to the agricultural sector in the 2020 budget by the Federal Government from N183.1 billion to N136.9 billion which accounts for a 1.73 per cent reduction.

This, Afan noted is not in tandem with the Maputo Declarations of 10 percent annual budget to agriculture, adding that the reduction would put small scale women farmers at the receiving end of hardship.

“A 1.73 per cent budget cut goes against the Maputo Declarations that says 10 per cent of the nation’s fiscal budget should be used on agriculture and any further reduction will lead to decreased food production,” Afan said in the statement.

Speaking further, she said women farmers constitute 60 percent of the nation’s agriculture labour, describing them as the lifeblood of Nigerian agriculture and critical to the livelihood of people in the country.

“Women farmers constitute over 60 per cent of the agriculture labour force and provide inputs and functions that are critical to improved livelihoods as their efforts have not received enough budgetary support, facilitation and acknowledgement by successive governments,” she said.

In 2019, female farmers contribution to  production in Nigeria was estimated to worth N11.3 trillion.

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The women farmers, however, called on the Federal Government to increase allocation to the agriculture sector to at least 5 percent of the total budget.

“Our plea is for an increase in the allocation to agriculture to at least 5 per cent of the overall budget which is 50 per cent of the Maputo commitment this will amount to not less than N201.1billion,” she said.

Afan added that despite challenges facing the small-scale women farmers on food production, their contribution had been significant, as they supplied “up to 50 per cent of the country’s vegetables and fruits.”

The female farmers’ organisation urged the Federal Government to allocate budget funded programmes and projects for women and youth with locations, clear deliverable and tied to identifiable stakeholders.

“We also know that increased public investments in critical sectors, such as agriculture, are required to lift the binding constraints on poor and more importantly, on women farmers’ productivity and would better position the economy on its path to a resurgence from the imminent recession,” she said.

Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.

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