Women farmers in Africa have asked governments across the continent to domesticate the Maputo Declaration and commit at least 10 percent of their annual budgets to agriculture to ensure food security on the continent.
The 2014 Maputo Declaration in the agricultural sector seeks to cut poverty in half by 2025 via agriculture-led economic growth.
Addressing women at the ActionAid International sponsored 4th Rural Women Farmers Forum (RWFF), Leadership Capacity Building Training and Annual Planning meeting in Abuja, RWFF’s 1st Vice President, Mrs. Mary Afan, said a number of countries are yet to honour the Maputo Declaration.
Speaking on the implications of this on small holder women farmers, Afan said women have been deprived access to government interventions like credit and extension services.
“We don’t even have access to good rural feeder roads to transport our produce to markets. In the end, this challenges contribute to food scarcity in our countries.”
She charge African leaders to replicate the Brazilian approach, by empowering rural communities to boost their production and also provide markets for their produce.
In her remarks at the workshop, the Country Director of ActionAid Nigeria, Ojobo Atulukwu, called for drastic policy actions that would boost the welfare of women farmers on the continent.
She said the place of women farmers is in the center of policy making, because the bulk of food consumed in Africa are produced by women farmers.
“It is time that governments recognize the importance of small holder farmers. I am happy to say there is little gains, but the problem is that the gains are too slow and they are coming a bit too late, except there are drastic actions around that.
“We appreciate the progress recorded in the policies issues we see around, but the progress will not happen unless women farmers are organized, and that is happening because of the unity of women farmers across Africa,” Ojobo said.
Identifying some of the challenges facing women farmers in Nigeria the Assistant Director, Women in Agriculture and Vulnerable Groups at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Hajia Sugra Mahmood, said financial illiteracy has prevented women from accessing some of the funds dedicated to them.
She explained that the Nigerian government has committed huge funds to provide credits for farmers and small business owners, but pointed that a bulk of those funds has remained unaccessed, especially by women farmers.
“For instance we have s N220billion SMEs fund which has been there for years now, 60percent of that fund is supposed to go to women entrepreneurs, including farmers, but how many women are able to access that fund?
“We have various windows in various development banks but as women and as farmers we have a lot of disadvantages, many of us are financial illiterate. We are not able to properly engage in the financial sector and this is a challenge,” she lamented.
Though a signatory to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme, CAADP, reached in Maputo, Mozambique in 2003, Nigeria is committing less than 2 percent of its 2017 budget to agriculture.