In line with the 16 days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, a group of Activists has highlighted the importance of ending all forms of violence against women and girls within the agricultural value chain, as a pathway towards sustainable food security.
While also adding that 1 out of 3 women suffered violence against women and girls globally.
The group made the disclosure during a breakfast roundtable tagged “Voices from the farm” in Abuja.
The Program was organized by Centre for Accountability and Inclusive Development (CAAID) in collaboration with the Development Initiative for Community Enhancement (DICE), Health Education Agriculture Development Africa Initiative (HEARD Africa), and Initiative for African Society Inclusion and Diversity for Development (INCLUD) Africa.
The Experts stated that agribusiness is a driving force for economic growth, food security, health employment and export in developing countries.
Analysing a recent report from ActionAid International Nigeria, the group explained that “recent data facilitated in all the 36 states and FCT, highlighted that smallholder women farmers have access to only about 18% in terms of storage facilities and 16% market access which is quite low, less than 10% transportation and 50% access to land and this access is not controlled in leasing and renting but only 20% ownership”.
The Executive Director Centre for Accountability and Inclusive Development( CAAID), Aanu Rotimi stated that “although we recognized the ongoing efforts of the government by the National Gender Policy in Agriculture 2019, and its implementation through the National gender steering committee interventions by various stakeholders.
“We recommend that the Government should increase budgetary allocation to the women farmers in the 2023 budget across the tiers of government and to boost women in agriculture, as the allocation has dropped from 675,705 million in 2017 to 416,593 million nairas in 2021”, she said.
The Executive Director of CAAID said deliberate efforts should be made by relevant ministries, departments and agencies to monitor and ensure access to the percentage of agricultural finance meant for women and girls.
Aanu Rotimi further called on all states to adopt and strengthen the implementation of agricultural sectors on gender policy and environment.
She urged ICT experts to design technology that is female-accessible without any risk involved, and also ensure that female farmers are informed before hands-on capacity building for adequate preparations.
In the same vein, she advised the government to review the land use act and the issue of female land inheritance to assist women and girls, so they can have access to land and natural resources, citing Abia States as an example.
She also emphasized the need to address Gender Based Violence and Harassment of women workers’ recruitment and male dominance by investors and employees in the agricultural sector.
The Executive Director Development Africa Initiative for Community Enhancement, Akaoma Onyemelukwe, said sustaining a violent-free agricultural sector is vital and central to sustainable food system and food security.
“The challenges faced by female farmers include; lack of access to finance, lack of access to inputs and land, social barriers , lack of transportation facilities, and cultural norms which restrict women from ICT accessibility.
“Gender based violence and harassment is a systematic form of labour abuse that poses a high risk due to the huge female workforce in the agricultural sector”, she said.
Onyemelukwe, further affirmed that women constitute 1 million workforce of agricultural workers in Nigeria. They also account for 75-80% of the farming population, that are involved in agriculture at different levels across value chains such as aggregator, distributors, logistics, processing, market access and trading.
A young farmer Rashidat Mohammed recounting her personal experience, stated that her interest in farming geared her motivation into practising farming, when she was denied admission into the university for the past five years.
“I ventured into rice and maize farming, and rearing of cattle as well.
Most of the challenges am facing are lack of access to input such as fertiliser.
Lack of finance and psychological bullying are major hurdles am facing.I need up to date technology and machine that would aid farming activities in Nigeria”, she added.
Abdullahi Baba advised rural farmers not to visit the farm alone and should try and form a cooperative that can assist in times of need and trouble.
“Community chiefs should establish vigilante groups that involves both the villagers and the herdsmen to reduce the insecurity and rape cases among the female farmers”, he said.