The Niger state government on Friday pledged more support to the state chapter of the Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation in Nigeria (SWOFON), to develop its agri-business potential.
Dr Idris Gbogan, Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, made this known while inaugurating a one-day town hall meeting in Minna.
Gbogan, represented by the Director of Engineering Services at the ministry, Mr Danladi Musa explained that the government was very passionate about developing agriculture especially, with women farmers in the state.
He disclosed that the state government had just approved N70 million for the procurement of women and youth friendly agricultural equipment in the state.
He explained that the measure would help women and youths engage in gainful agricultural activities in the state.
“As soon as the funds are released, it will assist women and youths in dry season farming,” he said.
He noted that since more of the agricultural activities were done by women, there was need to carry them along in the government’s quest to ensure food security in the state, and also to uplift the living standard of families.
“We are absolutely behind the SWOFON. We will do more to support women farmers in the state to develop their potentials,” he said.
The permanent secretary also disclosed that N80 million had been budgeted by the state government to transport fertilisers to the 25 local government areas (LGAs) of the state, for easy access by farmers, especially women.
He noted that in the 2022 budget under review, the state government procured assorted grains worth N50 million for onward distribution to all farmers.
Similarly, Mr Mohammed Pati, Director of Administration, Niger State Planning Commission, urged the SWOFON to collaborate with the commission and the state Ministry of Finance, to ensure proper budgetary allocation for the organisation.
Also, Kaltum Rufa’i, Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, said that the ministry would support the activities of women farmers in the state.
Mr Zegi Ahmadu, the State Coordinator, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, urged SWOFON to take farming as a profitable business venture for improved income generation, to improve the living standard of families.
“Agriculture creates several job opportunities for both women, men and youth,” Ahmadu said.
He appealed to government at all levels to support women farmers towards increasing agricultural yield.
Also speaking, Shehu Galadima, Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in the state, said that the association had engaged development partners to train women farmers in Good Agricultural Practices (GAP).
Mrs Ogechi Okebugwu, Programme Coordinator, SWOFON National Secretariat, Abuja, assured that the organisation would continue to provide technical support to women farmers to develop at all levels.
“We have some donor funding to provide capacity building on issues that affect SWOFON in terms of public financing, agriculture, budget tracking and monitoring,” Okebugwu said.
Earlier, Mrs Grace Disa, the state Coordinator, SWOFON, said that the meeting had committed key stakeholders in the state to contribute to the development of women farmers.
Disa said that SWOFON would embark on constant advocacy visits to the state Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) that would help women farmers achieve their objectives.
She said that SWOFON would also pressure government to include women in decision making especially, concerning budget.
The Coordinator appealed to government to allocate 10 per cent of its 2023 budget to SWOFON, and also provide gender friendly farming equipment to women.
The state’s 2022 budget stood at N225.148 billion out of which N7.710 billion was voted for agriculture.
The 2023 budget of N238.924 billion proposal is higher than the 2022 budget of N225.148 billion by 2.96 per cent.
In the 2023 budget, N3.65 billion went to agriculture and rural development sub-sector to boost agricultural productivity, while N100 million was earmarked for the purchase of women and youth-friendly equipment.
The meeting was convened to present budget credibility research findings, as well as stakeholders’ dialogue.