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Harvest-Plus partner, others advocate empowerment of women for agric

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Agric

It has been advocated that more women should be empowered to boost agric productivity, for over 80% of the agric production comes from small-scale women farmers who are mostly rural dwellers.

Mrs Bola Adeyemo, a partner with HarvestPlus Nigeria, producer of vitamin-A fortified cassava in Eruwa, Oyo State, said “the first thing I think should be done is to provide women farmers with basic equipment like tractors and processing machines.

If the government provides the rural farmers with the basic equipment, they will be encouraged to work harder.”

With encouragement, training and incentives, more women can be drawn into agricultural production through which they can generate income for improved living standard.

She said in the area, women belonged either to garri or lafun production groups, and if they did not have means of planting and processing, they might be discouraged.

Another way of empowering women is through provision of good roads to take the produce from the farm to the market.

She said the local government areas authorities should live up to their responsibility by grading rural roads and by providing structures with a transparent roofing sheet that women could use to sun-dry their products.

These, she claimed, would help women to produce more food in a more hygienic environment which would improve their income and health of the public.

“But the issue we have now is the high cases of cancer in Amujobi Hospital, which, according to doctors’ reports, is caused by eating of lafun that has been dried anywhere in the street. We are consuming chemicals which cause cancer,” Adeyemo said.

Financial institutions should also contribute in encouraging women to participate in agricultural businesses.

They can contribute by giving out loans to interested farmers in order to make large agricultural produce.

She said: “I will never willingly go to the bank to request for loans to do business in Nigeria, because I am not sure of how the outcome will be. I am not insinuating.

All they promise is that banks should give out loans to interested farmers, but the promise is usually not kept.

The government is just deceiving everybody. The government should set up a policy that will back their promises up.”

A bank worker at FCMB, Mr. Ayodeji Olowoora, while suggesting ways of empowering women in agriculture, said he could see women function more in the production stage of agricultural production, and so, financial institutions could empower them by providing them with machines and other agricultural inputs that make their work easier and faster.

Speaking on loans to farmers, he said before banks could give loans, there must be high level of assurance that a particular person is actually a farmer at a particular location, and that that farmer could repay the loan.

“We give them loans considering the kind of farming they are into and also, the level of their production.

For example, someone that operates on a plot of land wouldn’t be given the same loan as someone that operates on two acres of land,” he said.

Olowoora said sometime last year, the bank created awareness by giving farmers tractors, though not free, but at a reasonable amount which they could afford.


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