Over 200 women farmers in Kogi had received N20,000 grant each from Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN).
Hajia Sefiya Yahaya, Coordinator, Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation of Nigeria (SWOFON) Kogi Chapter, said this in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency on Wednesday in Lokoja.
According to her, the 200 women farmers from the three senatorial districts of the state received the grants last week.
She said that SMEDAN had also given them garri processing machines, rice milling machines and stoners.
Yahaya also said that the machines which would be inaugurated next week would be deployed to selected local government areas across the three senatorial districts of the state.
“We are grateful because of what SMEDAN has done for us because it is not the kind of empowerment that you pay back the money as loan.
“This is a grant and they are not expected to pay back the money.
“You know, for small-scale women farmers, the N20, 000 can go a long way and work for them.
“They can plant a lot of crops in the garden in their backyard. “This is our season for farming, N5, 000 can buy fertilizer for them,becausefertiliser is the most important thing.
“Many of the women don’t know how to prepare organic fertiliser.
“They prefer the fertiliser that can be purchased and apply easily to improve their crops and the yields. So, we are grateful to SMEDAN,’’ she said.
Yahaya, however, called on the state government to increase the annual budgetary allocation to the agricultural sector, saying that even with the dwindling allocation, release of budgeted funds was grossly inadequate.
She also called on the state government to accord women farmers priority in its agricultural policies and programmes, in view of their population and engagement in agricultural activities.
The coordinator said that 75 per cent of rural women were into small scale agriculture.
“Commercial banks will not give small scale women farmer credit facility because of collateral and other sundry reasons they give.
“So, the only hope for small holder farmer is for the government to give them grants, friendly equipment and inputs.”