‘Political farmers have hijacked government agriculture programmes’
•That’s not true, defends Ministry
Smallholder Women Farmers Organisation (SWOFON), have again alleged that political farmers have hijacked most of the government’s agricultural programmes.
This comes barely a few weeks an agro input suppliers also alleged that portfolio farmers are the ones accessing the farm inputs provided by the government, by collecting the inputs from the Ministry of Agriculture, and selling them to farmers at exorbitant prices.
But the Director, Farm Input, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and rural development, Badmus Jatto, denied the allegation, saying: “For the past three years the Ministry has not directly provided farm input to farmers. What we do is to work with the private sector to supply farm inputs to farmers at a subsidised rate.”
He disclosed that government might likely engage farmers in the growth enhancement scheme by next year wet season farming.
However, SWOFON in a communiqué issued at the end of its Annual Farmers Forum, weekend, in Abuja, said to curb the menace ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), must work closely with grassroots women farmers and SWOFON, to ensure real farmers get access to government’s programme.
The ActionAid-funded organisation pointed out that SWOFON veritable platform with reliable and verifiable data of the over 15,000 smallholder women farmers across the 36 States of the Federation.
National President SWOFON, Mary Afan, further called on the government to increase allocation to smallholder women farmers in the Agriculture budget across states, and at the national level, adding that such budgets need to be approved and released on time with the effective support of the MDAs and the Appropriation Committees of the legislative assemblies.
She further lamented that smallholder women farmers have difficulties in accessing credit facilities for improved agriculture business, hence there is a need for relevant government ministries and stakeholders to conduct regional engagement activities to sensitise them on existing opportunities for improved and increase access to credit.
The National Coordinator, SWOFON, Omoboyowa Roberts, noted that there has been reduction of farmlands due to climate change due to desertification, floods, insecurity in the middle belt and several parts of the country, fluctuation weather conditions, and changing weather.
She further decried that land ownership and control is still a challenge for smallholder women farmers in Nigeria, and urged the Ministries of Land and Housing, Agriculture, and relevant state level ministries to develop and implement gender-friendly policies that support smallholder women farmers to inherit land in Nigeria.
She stressed that the Land Use Act needs to be reviewed, to make the ownership and control of Land by women positive in Nigeria.