Small-Scale Women Farmers Organization of Nigeria (SWOFON), has advocated for improved farm implements and other inputs to boost farm production and feed the nation.
National President of SWOFON, Mrs. Mary Ishaya Afan who led the women to retire what she described as ‘obsolete’ farm implements including cutlasses, big and small holes as well as other local farm equipment to the National Museums and Monuments in Makurdi said their decision was to call on the government’s attention to provide modern farming implements for women.
She said that the platform which has over two Million (2,000,000) women farmers cuts across the 36 state of Nigeria including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja
David Torough who covered the event quoted the President as saying “actually, looking at what is happening, the population of the world is increasing and the demand for food is also increasing, and we all know that Nigeria is talking about food security which is actually a signatory to the Malabo declaration that also states that at least ten percent of the agribudget of every country should be given to women in agricultural sector to enable them to be able to achieve the six percent annual-grade-two production and you know that these holes can not help us achieve that and if government must achieve its food security, it means that we need to go into new technology
“And you are also aware that eighty percent of the food that you see in the market are produced by women and that is why we are here to speak to government that these obsolete farm implements should be now kept in the museum, a place where all artifacts are kept for the generation yet unborn to come and see what their parents were using to produce food and we are now demanding for new technology for us to increase production to feed the nation”.
Mrs. Ishaya enumerated the challenges of women in Benue State to include insecurity, untimely release of farm inputs by the government, lack of access to agricultural funds and government intervention and women are generally sidelined and neglected during policy formulation that would address their many problems amongst others challenges.
She therefore advocated for grants from government at all levels, favourable government policies, timely release of farm inputs, gender friendly equipments and the training of women farmers as extension workers.
The SWOFON President also called on the Federal government and sub-national government to mainstream gender-responsive budgeting (GRD) into its budget, mainstream the gender policy on agriculture at the national and the sub-national level into the budgeting framework and ensure effective oversight measures that show how public spending impacts women farmers even as she promised that the organization will continue to engage Stakeholders and continue to advocate for the new machinery until their demands are achieved.
Speaking, National Secretariat, SWOFON, Madam Mnenna Ibiano said the importance of modern equipment to women can not be overemphasized as it will go along way in improving the activities of the small-scale women farmers as well as reduce the stress women go through in trying to put food on the table.
She added that “we can not do much with these obsolete equipments and that is why we are talking about modern equipments, gender friendly machines where we can handle by ourselves. Government have been trying but like the oliva twist, we want more considering the situation we have found ourselves”. The national secretary said.
SWOFON State President, Mrs. Ngizan Chahuul said if women are given farm implements and inputs, it will make them independent, feed their families better and solve other family problems and even export the excess farm produce.
On her part, Chairman, Oju Local Government, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Okwe who lauded the women for living up to their expectations also said there will be no food basket of the nation without the support of women and called for all stakeholders to support them.
In their separate goodwill messages, State Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Aondongu Saaku, Director of Agricultural Services, Benue state ministry of agriculture, Mr. Thomas Unongo and State Coordinator, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Ruler Development (FMARD), who was represented by Youth and Gender Nutrition Focal Person Benue state, Mr. Michael Ajai all promised to give their maximum support to SWOFON to actualize their dreams.
The retirement of the local farm implements to the museum literally symbolized that Benue women no longer have farm implements to go to farm again until the government gives them new farm implements.
Earlier while receiving the women farmers at the museum, Curator, National Museums and Monuments, Ms. Musa Cecilia Zoaka on behalf of the Director General, National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Prof. Abbah Isa Tijani appreciated the gesture saying, that implements would be useful to the generation yet unborn in conformity with the establishment mandate of the commission.
SWOFON later had a town hall meeting and interactive session with Stakeholders at the Benue Hotels and Resorts Makurdi.