THE Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation of Nigeria (SWOFON) have called on the Nigerian government to provide better security on their farms.
National President of SWOFON Mary Afan made this call during the flag-off of the distribution of agricultural inputs to smallholder women farmers from the North Central states and the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja on Thursday.
Afan, who expressed her appreciation on behalf of the SWOFON, said the distribution of farm inputs had demonstrated to the women farmers that the rainy season had begun.
She noted that in December 2020, the women farmers had handed over their hoes and cutlass, and were now being equipped with mechanised tools.
However, she stated that to ensure food security in the country, the government should provide security for them.
The SWOFON was allocated 500 pineapple peelers, 100 3hp water pumps, 30 small groundnut decorticators, and 20 small charcoal stoves.
They were also allocated 20 small threshers and five orange pushcarts during the flag-off ceremony.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Muhammad Nanono, during his address, said the distribution of the farm inputs was part of the mitigation measures against the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Today, the ministry is supporting about 7, 500 women with value kits (planting materials, growth enhancers 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,” Nanono said.
He added that aside the distribution of inputs to the women, the ministry was also distributing production and processing equipment in an effort to reduce drudgery, improve efficiency, reduce cost of production and improve the quality of products and produce from the operations.
FCT Minister Mohammed Bello acknowledged the resilience of the hard-working Nigerian women farmers.
He said that the event was significant as it would alleviate the hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The event today signifies the building of the local economy. The roll-out of the agricultural inputs will enable our women to scale up agriculture to improve productivity,” he said.
Delivering her goodwill message, Minister of Women’s Affairs Pauline Tallen expressed happiness for the inputs, noting that history was being made at the event because it was an answered prayer for the women.
She also called on all women in positions to support other women, thanking President Muhammadu Buhari for the initiative to cushion the effect of the pandemic.
Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige, who was also present at the flag-off ceremony, said the occasion was one of the reasons the president had called back the 2021 budget to rework it to fit the economy of the country that had nosedived.
He stated that during the COVID-19, jobs were lost and the worst hit were those in the informal sector, especially casual workers, most of whom were women.
“The women deserve special place in our factorisation, both in government and private sector, because any harsh condition that affects the nation affects the women more,” Ngige said.
He said the Ministry of Agriculture had delivered its responsibility in cushioning the effects of COVID-19 very remarkably by distributing the farm inputs to the women farmers.