Nigerian women under the auspices of the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS) has called on the federal government to subsidize equipment for mechanized farming in order to curb the dependence of Nigerian farmers on subsistence farming, and enable economic diversification of the economy.
The call was contained in a communique signed in Abuja at the end of a two-day workshop on the 2nd National Food Fair, organised by the NCWS and Travel Marketing Partners on the theme: “From Subsistence Farming to Mechanisation at the Grassroots.”
The communique noted the huge number of rural women engaged in subsistence farming, stressing the need for them to be guided and assisted to access funds that will enable them upgrade to mechanized farming.
“The Federal government has made funds available to be accessed by farmers in enhancing their agricultural activities. Women farmers should form cluster bodies to be able to access loans being disbursed for agricultural activities,” the communique urged.
“Government Agencies such as the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), The Nigerian Import Export Bank (NEXIM) ,the Central Bank and other related agro business development and promotion agencies should double their efforts at including women in their sensitization and out-reach programs to women farmers and agro entrepreneurs so that they can benefits from their programs and boost their economic base as key operators in the national economic activities,” it added.
According to the communique, women are more creative and meticulous in business management, stressing therefore the need for them to be more involved in agro-allied businesses.
It also harped the importance of value addition in agriculture and all other related farming activities, stating that this is key to the diversification of agro-allied business and the development of high quality agricultural produce and commodities in the country.
“Nigerian women farmers can add value to their farm produce by further processing their farm produce from raw to semi-finished and possibly finished products.
“Women farmers and allied agro enterprises should avail themselves of government training and skill acquisition programs to improve as well as enhance their level of economic enterprises for maximum benefits and profits.
It further lauded the Federal government’s initiative of encouraging local production of agricultural produce as against the importation of food under the mantra; Nigeria to produce what she eats, and eat what she produces.
“We also commend federal government’s closure of the country’s land borders to check the importation of foods, so that we look inwards for our food needs thereby promoting local production and providing gainful employment opportunity for the people,” it stated.