Empowering Women in Nigerian Agriculture: Bridging Policy and Reality

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By Cecilia Attah

In a resounding call to action, Omolara Svensson, the national coordinator of Nigeria Women for Agricultural Progress (NWAP), has urged the government to collaborate directly with women to enforce and implement agricultural policies. This plea was emphasized during the Nigeria Women in Agriculture and Agric Business Convention held in Abuja, shedding light on the critical role women play in shaping Nigeria’s agricultural landscape.

Nigeria’s agricultural sector serves as a cornerstone of its economy, contributing 23 percent to the GDP and engaging over 70 percent of its populace, particularly women at a subsistence level. However, despite its prominence, the sector grapples with multifaceted challenges such as limited access to funds, environmental issues like flooding and desertification, and inadequate infrastructure within the food processing industry, leading to a surge in food inflation.

Throughout Nigeria’s history, women have been pivotal in agricultural pursuits, from pre-colonial times to present-day. Research indicates that 70-80% of smallholder farmers in Nigeria are women, underscoring their indispensable contribution to food production and nutrition security. However, despite their significant involvement, women encounter barriers like unequal access to resources, hindering their full participation in sustainable agriculture.

Omolara Svensson raised poignant questions about the efficacy of governmental agricultural policies. Despite substantial spending on agricultural interventions, food insecurity persists. Omolara pointed out a stark disparity between allocated funds and actual results, suggesting a disconnect between policy formulation and implementation on the ground.

The convention attendees, representing diverse regions of Nigeria, shared common grievances such as unequal access to resources, high equipment costs, and the risk of abuse. Emphasizing the need for unity among women in agriculture, Omolara stressed the importance of a collective voice to effectively garner government support. Additionally, women with disabilities in agriculture called for inclusive support from the government to address their specific challenges.

While governmental initiatives like the proposed National Agricultural Commodity Directorate and financial support pledges are commendable, questions linger about their effectiveness in addressing systemic challenges faced by women in agriculture. Omolara reiterated the need for policy alignment and accountability to ensure positive outcomes in Nigeria’s agricultural sector.

As the convention concluded, a resounding call to action emerged with the slogan #LeaveNoWomanBehind, underscoring the imperative of inclusivity and empowerment in agricultural development efforts. NWAP, positioned as a gender-sensitive organization, strives to empower Nigerian women in agriculture, envisioning a future where women farmers serve as beacons of sustainable progress not only in Nigeria but across Africa.

In the face of challenges, the spotlight is now on policymakers to translate rhetoric into tangible actions, bridging the gap between policy formulation and on-the-ground realities to unlock the full potential of Nigeria’s agricultural sector while leaving no woman behind.

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