Small Scale Women Farmers of Nigeria (SWOFON) is an umbrella body that has remained steadfast in pushing for the voice of their colleagues to be heard. This is even as statistics show that the FCT has more women farmers who need attention and support. JOHN OBA reports.
Women in food production
Women in Nigeria’s agriculture and food production, processing and
utilization landscape, play very significant roles but they are constrained by socio-cultural barriers. Yet their empowerment and support will help in the country’s strive for increased food production, food self-sufficiency and sustained reduction of poverty and malnutrition.
In Africa and Nigeria, especially, agricultural development is a complex process and a challenging one as well for women, more especially, for the rural women farmers play vital role in food production and food security.
Women account for 70% of agricultural workers
According to statistics, women account for 70% of agricultural workers, 80% of
food producers, 100% of those who process basic foodstuffs and they undertake from 60% to 90% of the
marketing. With the economic situation in the country more than seven of 10 agricultural workers are women despite their domestic and reproductive
By this, they contribute to national agricultural output, maintenance of the environment and family food security. Though the involvement of
women in agriculture have attracted more attention in recent years, but unfortunately less investment has been committed to women farmers empowerment. They are more disadvantaged in getting fund, land, equipment and inputs for their farms.
As part of efforts to ensure that the voices of these women are heard in the FCT, women farmers under the auspices of Small Scale Women Farmers of Nigeria (SWOFON) converged recently at an annual FCT Budget Consultative meeting with stakeholders from the FCTARD, Ministry of Agriculture, Agric Extension Department, ADB and other relevant actors in Abuja to dialogue allocation to women the FCT agriculture budget.
According to the ActionAid national coordinator of SWOFON, Mrs Robert , the meeting was meant to present the analysis to the 2019 Agriculture Budget to relevant government officials in the FCT and to encourage smallholder women farmers in the FCT to continued advocacy for farmers and citizens participation in budget processes and procedures.
The meeting g also help to advocate for the inclusion and of the needs for smallholder women farmers to be included in the budget, increased budgetary allocation to agriculture Inputs, and gender friendly machineries and for the FCT budget Office to ensure timely- prompt releases and cash backing.
2020 budgetary allocations
During the consultation, participants said core issues that affects women in FCT be addressed in the 2020 agriculture budget processes and preparation for the annual budget analysis, saying it will be sharing it observations and demands that resulted from our deliberations with the FCT management.
The women lamenting the preparation of budget in FCT said smallholder farmers, who are producers of over 70% of the food consumed in the capital are not currently involved in the agriculture budgeting planning processes formally as there is no formal guideline for involving smallholder women farmers in the budget cycle in the FCT as a result the FCT budget is not a reflection of farmers needs and demands.
Fluctuating nature of the FCT budget allocation to Agriculture
They said the fluctuating nature of the FCT budget allocation to Agriculture despite the challenges faced by the sector include non-compliance to the 10% national annual budget for agriculture as provided for in the Maputo/Malabo Declaration; a lack of timely passage and full release of budgeted funds for agricultural development.
They therefore demanded that the budget-line allocation to “Women In Agriculture” in the FCT Budget needs to be broken down to line items for proper understanding of the programme and to facilitate smallholder women access to the programme and should reflect capital projects in the FCT agriculture sector supported by improved monitoring procedures by the Agriculture Development Programme.
“MDAs and Bill and appropriation Committees of the National Assembly needs to approve and ensure timely release of the 2020 appropriated FCT Agriculture Budget. There is need to be increased percentage allocation with steady increase to ensure gender responsiveness budgeting of the agriculture budget is insufficient as some budget in order to make tracking of such line items easier.
“Agriculture and total statutory appropriation over the period 2014-2018. Nominal appropriation to agriculture increased by 22.11% between 2017 and 2018, while total appropriation to agriculture for the same period grew by only 13.98% approx. (14%). The real value of the value of the appropriation (N4,447,997,044/1.14) equal N3,901,751,793 representing a short fall of N546,245,251.
‘The 2019 FCT Agriculture budget of some sector MDAs contain some allocations that are ambiguous, over-bloated, and lumped up; the problem being that their monitoring is almost impossible,” the group said.
SWOFON called the FCT authority to finalize its agricultural policy or make good the claim in certain quarter of the existence of an FCT agriculture policy.
They said small holder women farmers should advocate for the group consultation in the review or finalization of Agriculture Policy document (where the policy does not exist or is obsolete).
“Allocation to agriculture secretariat capital expenditure line item should be improved and reflect more of items aimed to aid smallholder women farmers improve yield per hectare and increase food production.
“The FCT should be called upon to respect the Maputo/Malabo Declarations for the allocation of a minimum of 10% of annual budget to agriculture.
Grazing reserves and payment of compensation
“The allocation to establishment of grazing reserve and payment of compensation can be followed up for timely completion of project and efficient utilization of public resource. Smallholder women Farmers are requesting that the processes to accessing Credit Scheme; should be broken down and simplified for proper understanding and the possibility of the inclusion of smallholder women farmers (as group) with access to the credit facility.
They said the allocation for extension services/agent must be given priority in the budget in order to improve the linkage between research institute and the smallholder farmers.
Adding that there is huge investment in procurement of heavy expensive machines that are not always appropriate to the needs of the users and unsuitable for the topography and size of land cultivated by smallholder farmers especially women. These technologies according to the women are also hard to maintain and usually gets dumped when faults develop, leading to wastage.
They commended the Agriculture and Rural Development Secretariat of the (FCT) Department (FCTARD) and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture And Rural Development saying they are now committed to collaborating with Smallholder Women Farmers by consulting them during Budget Planning and that this should be sustained for more inclusive and gender responsive agriculture policy and budget making processes in Nigeria.
“We also commend the allocation of a higher capital component than recurrent for developmental projects in the 2019 agriculture budget at the Federal Capital Territory Level and this should be maintained and increased,” they said.