Women farmers in Nigeria have challenged government over seeming discrimination against them in allocation of resources to promote their participation in boosting agriculture business in the country.
Among the concerns raised include, lack of access to agricultural loans and grants as well as lack of access to land ownership.
At an agriculture forum in Lagos, national president of National Council of Women Societies, NCWS, Gloria Laraba Shoda observed that despite huge support and significant participation and contributions of women in the sector, little attention is paid to their plight.
Shoda, while raising the concern recalled figures provided by the federal ministry of agriculture which revealed that Nigerian women are responsible for 70 per cent of agriculture labor, 50 per cent of animal husbandry related activities and 60 per cent of food processing but unfortunately have access to less than 20 per cent of available agricultural resources and facilities.
In her paper titled, “Nigerian Women In Agricultural Development: Participation and Empowerment In A Practicing Democracy” the president noted that the role of women in agriculture is no longer a myth, but expressed regrets that past patterns of data collection did not properly recognize women’s labor on the field and in the domestic environment.
“Women’s labor was deemed as family contributions, as a farmers wife and assigned a zero valuation leading to dire consequences on policies on agricultural production because they were invisible and voiceless as far as influencing agricultural policies.
“These policies which are aimed at increasing food security and food production are largely unsuccessful because they do not take into account the critical role of women in Production.
However, a new approach to data collection about labor share has revealed the real state of affairs. Beyond the anecdotal reports we hear about women participation on the farm and what we see during road travels of women farmers, conducting on-farm and off-farm activities, quantitative and qualitative research through the nooks and crannies of the country now reveals the true extent of the roles played by women in all components of agricultural production”, she said.
According to her, the data supplied by credible institutions such as the African Development Bank further supports the position of the federal ministry of agriculture and rural development which says that women contribute close to 70 per cent of the agricultural workforce.
She therefore challenged policy makers to introduce gender-responsive agricultural policies that will ensure that women farmers get fairer and equitable deal.