ABIMBOLA Fagoyinbo-Francis, has appealed to governments to provide grants as post COVID-19 incentive to women in agrculture to boost food production in the coming year.
Fagoyinbo-Francis, also the General Secretary, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Lagos State Chapter, made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos.
She said both the State and Federal Governments should create such window of opportunities to encourage women in agriculture to thrive.
Fagoyinbo-Francis, said the role of women in agrculture was very crucial, adding that women play a very active role, especially in the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs).
According to her, women are the driver behind SMEs, because they start from the scratch and they endure all weather.
“We are asking for government’s intervention, though government is trying now because they are trying to recognise the role of women in agriculture.
“But without the government coming in to intervene in the area of funding and in assisting women, women cannot succeed in agriculture.
“Land clearing alone requires a lot of money, and is a lot of challenge because women don’t own the land.
“This is part of the policy that government need to change in Nigeria,” she said.
Fagoyinbo-Francis urged government to change some policies where women were being regarded as second class people and favour men more than women.
She said that policies should give equal opportunity to women in agriculture and should not sideline them in the critical areas of the economy.
The association general secretary said that government should give priority attention on gender equality in agriculture quickly.
“Women struggle hard alone to source for land, loan, tools and equipment. Many of them are widows,” the farmer said.
She commended the efforts of government in refocussing the interest rate to reduce the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
“Even, with low interest rate, women still need more support.
“For the past three months, most of the land we ploughed have been over grown with weeds.
“We are faced with additional challenges to spend money to pay workers to clear it again.
“All these things are additional expenses that we never planned for, but caused by the pandemic.
“We need government’s intervention on grants this time around to support us during this post COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
Fagoyinbo-Francis urged government to seize the opportunity of the farming season to provide seedlings, tools, farmland and mechanised tools to women to ensure food security.
“This is the period that we really need government help in order to increase food production and food self a sufficiency in the country,” she said.
The association general secretary decried the high cost of food stuff in the market amidst COVID-19, saying that farmers must be empowered to do more.
“Now is the right time for government to provide grants to women in agriculture to boost our production,” she said.
– June 30, 2020 @ 18:45 GMT