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Women farmers seek security from FG

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Small Scale Women Farmers Association of Nigeria, (SWOFON) has asked the Federal Government to provide security to its members, who are unable to return to their farms as a result of increasing insecurity.

National President of the association, Mary Ishaya, made this known at the review of the national agriculture budget organised by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), yesterday, in Abuja.

According to her, it will be impossible for Nigeria to attain food security, if it does not protect farmers who are being kidnapped, raped and killed in their farms by bandits, criminal herders or terrorists.

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“The challenge of insecurity does not affect our women farmers alone, but all farmers. Around October and November last year, we saw how some of our rice farmers were massacred in their farms when they went to harvest their rice. Because of that, a lot of people abandoned their farms.

“We are talking to government on the need to tag food security with security because without security, we cannot produce. The cost of food is high because most of the farms were not cultivated or harvested or were destroyed or eaten up by cows,” she stated.

Calling for increase in the national budget for agriculture, Ishaya added: “We are here to also see the analysis of the federal budget as it affects small holder farmers and to know whether any allocation or legislation is available for women farmers.”

Lead Director of CSJ, Eze Onyekpere, noted that the organisation’s work with women farmers was prompted by the fact that majority of farmers in Nigeria were women.

According to him, the national gender policy in agriculture states that women do between 70 and 80 per cent of the farming and so the expectation is that the budget should take cognisance of those female farmers, especially the small scale, and target them specifically.

Onyekpere warned that if the women farmers were not given preference over the political farmers, “we would have a situation where political farmers will be taking up the money that should go to the real farmers, knowing well that political farmers don’t have farms and therefore can’t produce.”

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