JDPC decries marginalisation of smallholder farmers, women in agriculture
• Tells Akeredolu to open up farm lands
The Justice Development and Peace Centre (JDPC) has decried the exclusion of smallholder farmers and women from the agricultural programmes and financial subsidy schemes across the federation.
JDPC Director, Catholic Diocese of Ondo, Rev. Fr. Damian Adesegha, pointed out these inadequacies during the last state level dissemination and scorecard on assessment of agriculture credit by smallholder farmers at the weekend in Akure.
The programme, organised in conjunction with ActionAid Nigeria, had in attendance farmers across the 18 councils, Bank of Agriculture (BoA), Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSRAL), and the state Ministry of Agriculture.
They affirmed that government has introduced eight agricultural credit schemes in the country to simplify access to credit for smallholder farmers from 1973 to 2015, and that between 1978 and 2016, about N98.2billion worth of loans were guaranteed by the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (ACGSF) for smallholder farmers.
But Adesegha noted that the Public Finance for Agriculture (PFA) Budget Committee, an arm of JDPC and the ActionAid’s Community Participatory Assessment reports showed that women are highly marginalised in these schemes.
According to him, agriculture, which employs 70 per cent of Nigeria’s labour force, is the second largest contributor to Nigeria’s GDP with 23 per cent, while smallholder farmers dominate the sector and produced 90 per cent of the output.
He noted that women, who between 2009 and 2013, enjoyed only 2.78 per cent of the total annual credit provided, make up approximately 80 pee cent of smallholder farmers in Nigeria.
Quoting ACGSF data, he added that among the 270, 545 farmers that benefited in the scheme from 2012 to 2016, there were 69.89 per cent male beneficiaries while the female percentage was only 29.77 per cent.
Aside the conspicuous defects, poor release of funds and “padding” in the PFA report, the clergy faulted the agricultural policies of the state that give little or no consideration for women in agriculture.
JDPC expressed displeasure over the poor utilisation of ACGSF credit funds, revealing that Delta State utilised it most with N6.9billion, while Ondo State was third among the least with N1billion and Ebonyi State.
The Chairperson of Ondo State Smallholders Women Farmers Network (SHOWFAN), Mrs. Grace Bukola Oyediji, decried that the association has never benefitted from any government initiative in agriculture.
Oyediji, alongside other financial institutions which expressed their willingness to support farmers, identified acute scarcity of land for farmers in the state as a big barrier despite ample opportunities that abound in the forest zone.