The Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation of Nigeria (SWOFON), has called for timely releases and full implementation of budgetary allocations to the agricultural sector, particularly as it affects women farmers in the FCT.
The National Coordinator of the organisation, Omobayowa Roberts made the call at the Annual Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Consultative and Citizen Dialogue on 2019 FCT agriculture budget on Monday in Abuja.
According to her, in view of the fact that women formed over 70 per cent of rural farmers in Nigeria, it is important to analyse how much they had benefited from the 2019 budget.
“We are here with our FCT Budget Committee members for our annual FCT Agriculture Committee Forum and a Citizen’s Dialogue basically to talk about the analysis we have been able to carry out on 2019 agriculture budget.
“We are here to talk about the reality, importance and relevance of FCT agriculture budget to small holder women farmers.
“We also want to analyse between last year and this year if there has been progress and change in the manner the farmers are being included or consulted in the agriculture budget procedures and processes and percentage allocation in terms of small holder women farmers.
“We are talking about the fact that it is not just important to say allocate a budget line to women in agriculture but what exactly are the projects ongoing in the various communities in the six area councils of the FCT.
“Can smallholder women farmers testify and agree to the fact that they are beginning to benefit from inputs like fertilisers.
“Is the FCT supporting them with gender friendly machineries. What is the relevance of the budget to small holder women farmers in the FCT,” she said.
According to her, the forum is to also talk about timely releases of budget and the fact that the budget appropriated is not always the budget that is released and cash backing for smallholder women farmers is also important.
“We are looking at the analysis and taking our recommendations from the farmers and the budget committee members and telling government that we can do better by increasing budget allocation as it pertains to smallholder women farmers in the FCT,” she said.
Roberts noted that there were lots of opportunities if government would take into cognisance smallholder women farmers.
The Coordinator noted that the Rural Development Committee solar powered boreholes and other relevant projects in the FCT are examples of what government could do for farmers.
She added that gender friendly machineries should be provided with little or no cost to produce more as well as capital intensive projects to help in processing to reduce post harvest losses, increase their income and improve their livelihood.
Martins Eke, Programme Manager, Centre for Social Justice, an NGO committed to budget, advocacy and transparency in Nigeria, equally harped on implementation of budget for expected agricultural growth.
He said, “we score FCT high in terms of capital allocation. However, the challenge will be in the judicious utilisation of the allocation.
“It is one thing to have a well couched line item budget, it is another thing to see that they are fully implemented. We just hope that the implementation goes according to plan.”
He said the importance of budget to national development could not be undermined, adding “there is no tool anywhere in the country that can be used to promote development in the sector as much as budget.
“So, the idea is, if you want the smallholder women farmers to contribute more to agricultural production, the best tool to achieve that is through the budget.”
Byencit Nimpar, Principal planning officer, FCT, Agric and Rural Development Secretariat (ARDS), said efforts had been made over the years to improve on budgetary allocation to farmers, particularly women farmers.
She said “following meetings where small holder women farmers laid their requests, there is now allocation for women in budget.
“We made provision for inputs like fertiliser, herbicide, insecticide in the budget and we have a session of the budget that has to do with empowerment of youths and women.
“We equally have allocation for processing in the budget for farmers.
“We already have rice processing unit in Gwagwalada and we are trying to establish cassava processing unit there as well.
“We want to see how we can improve on food production and food security in our country.”(NAN)
Edited by Felix Ajide
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