USAID, PIND harp on gender-friendly agric policies
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND) have identified-gender friendly agric policy as a catalyst to improving on inclusion of smallholder women farmers in the sector.
This was a result of outcry against marginalisation of women who make up approximately 80 per cent of smallholder farmers in Nigeria.
Agriculture, which employs over 70 per cent of Nigeria’s labour force, is the second largest contributor to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with 23 per cent, while smallholder farmers dominate the sector and produce 90 per cent of the output.
Recounting his experience, the Executive Director of Life & Peace Development Organisation (LAPDO), Mr. Franklin Oloniju, who is playing a lead role in this campaign in Ondo State, said growing up and seeing all his mother’s sacrifice in supporting her family had been the personal motivation to always support women.
LAPDO facilitates the cluster start-up and inauguration of agric policy development Technical Working Group (TWG) recently launched in Akure, where PIND and USAID partnered the local organisation on a project entitled, ‘Enhancing inclusive agricultural sector in Ondo State.’
Oloniju said that the project was to support a bunch of hardworking women who hardly had anything to show for it, adding that LAPDO would continue to seek support for smallholder women farmers to have a voice in the agricultural governance sector and improve on their means of livelihood.
Oloniju, who pointed out that the inauguration of the TWG for agriculture gender policy was the first step in achieving this, revealed that “the project plans to work more in close collaboration with development partners, donor agencies and entrepreneurial organisations addressing women’s empowerment and progress to draw funds into the state for their use.”
The PIND Capacity Building Manager, Mrs. Bose Eitokpa, who listed many of the interventions by the organisation to encourage Ondo State women in agriculture, said the initiative would promote gender inclusiveness in agriculture and ensure sustainable peace and development among the Niger Delta communities.
She disclosed that 50 women per local government were mobilised in 18 councils of the state for empowerment at the 2016 International Women Day (IWD) in Delta State.
She said many women who had hitherto been planting one hectare increased their farmlands through the skills acquired, and had been teaching and mentoring other women on best practices in all value chain opportunities in agriculture.
“This is significant because our support has always targeted women in Ondo State to place them in the frontlines of the revival of agriculture in the state and nation at large,” he added.
While the USAID/SACE Chief of Party, Society Project, Charles Ubani, identified agriculture as a major aspect of any economy, he stressed that women were to be empowered so as to engage with the government in the promotion of gender policy in the sector.
He noted that the Strengthening Advocacy and Civil Engagement (SACE) project is a USAID-PIND funded project implemented by Chemonics International between January 2, 2014 and January 1, 2019 for more participatory roles and inclusion.