Human rights group, ActionAid Nigeria (AAN), has called on the Federal Government to facilitate credit access for smallholder women farmers.
Stating this was the Food and Agriculture Program Coordinator, AAN, Azubike Nwokoye, at a meeting on the promotion of easy access to funding for smallholder women farmers.
He suggested a collaboration between the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the State Ministry of Agriculture to create an annual budget plan that would ensure that these farmers get access to funds.
He said, “That’s why one of the strong recommendations is that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the State Ministry of Agriculture should create a budget plan, a yearly budget plan on strengthening access to credit.
“The yearly budget will help. If it is consultants that FMARD will get to support different women cooperatives to be able to access the available funding. The process will ensure that other services will be accessed, given the right support, and they should be able to pay on time.
“Due to the security situation in the country and even issues of climate change, paying back the loan could be difficult, that’s why we mentioned the agricultural insurance to go hand-in-hand with the credit facilities.”
Airing the challenges smallholder women farmers face in terms of access to funding, a representative of Small Scale Women’s Farmers Organization in Nigeria (SWOFON) – an umbrella body of women farmers – Nnanna Mercy, said that access to loans remained difficult.
Mercy called for sensitivity towards small-scale women farmers when designing a financial program targeted towards them.
Mercy said, “For farming activities, it has been good and bad. For every woman, especially in accessing agricultural loans, it is very difficult. The government, as you know, is business-oriented and as you know is not favourable to rural women. The way it is designed makes it difficult for the average woman-farmer to access.
“The government finances are mostly accessed by portfolio farmers, political farmers, because when you design a program for rural women and you are telling them to bring level 14officer as a guarantor, or you are telling them to bring a landed property, these are constraints that are really affecting rural women.
“What we are saying is that we should be gender-sensitive in designing our financial program, owing to all these constraints that women are suffering, let us streamline it to the womenfolk, in such a way that there should be some kind of understanding.
“Gender sensitivity should be considered and looked into; neglecting a woman in the agricultural sector is like neglecting agriculture. It is a fact that a woman contributes about 70 percent in the agricultural workforce, and then you neglect such a huge amount of people?”