The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has assured women farmers across the country of its resolve to provide inputs and equipment at subsidised rate to ensure high yield.
Mrs Karima Babangida, the Director, Federal Department of Agriculture (FDA), made this known when she received members of the Smallholder Women Farmers. Organisation in Nigeria (SWOFON), on behalf of the Minister, Sabo Nanono in Abuja on Thursday..
SWOFON members had visited the ministry as part of their campaign to solicit for inclusiveness, particularly in the distribution of inputs and machinery.
Babangida said government was committed to empowering women farmers in view of their enormous contributions to food security and national development.
She said it was great to see women engage in agriculture, which was dear to President Muhammadu Buhari.
“It is heart warming that the organisation is carrying out the campaign by working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
“A number of interventions and programmes have been promoted through capacity building and empowerment particularly for the women and youths, who constitute a large demographic group in the agricultural sector.
“We appreciate smallholder women farmers. We know you are feeding us. As such, I am assuring you that SWOFON members will benefit from all agro inputs and machinery at subsidised rate when procured by the ministry, “she said.
While advising the organisation to take advantage of the various government interventions, the director noted that the ministry was the most women friendly and gender responsive ministry.
She said, “SWOFON members in different commodity associations can take advantage and leverage on the various interventions the ministry is promoting.”
Babangida promised to relay the organisation’s demands to the minister.
“Your demands have been noted and I assure you on behalf of the ministry that we are going to take action to work with women farmers on a larger scale.
“The narrative in the ministry with regard to procurement has changed. It is going to be demand driven.
“We no longer want to procure what we think farmers need but what farmers say they need and we are starting with women farmers.”
The director commended the group for taking the lead in developing a data base for women farmers.
She said it was a laudable move, adding that it would help the ministry in its intervention programmes to give the required assistance.
Earlier, SWOFON President, Mrs Mary Afan, commended the ministry for its past interventions.
She, however, urged the ministry to come to the aid of women farmers, particularly in the area of inputs and gender friendly machinery.
She called for special attention to be given to women during distribution of inputs and machinery, adding that women farmers were largely marginalised in the past.
She further called for “improved budgetary allocation to the agriculturalsector in view of its enormous mandate.”
Afan assured of SWOFON’s readiness to continue to propagate the course of women farmers in the country as well as ensure abundant, quality food for all Nigerians.