Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The President, Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation in Nigeria (SWOFON), Mrs. Mary Afan has alleged that no group has been able to access the Central Bank off Nigeria’s (CBN) N60billion grants for women and youth.
She said having filled the forms as requested by the CBN as one of the criteria for accessing the loan, the process has remained rigorous thus, making it more difficult to obtain the loan.
Afan, who disclosed this in Abuja at the National annual farmers forum, organised by ActionAid Nigeria, stated categorically that women farmers in the country seemed cut off from agricultural policies being put in place by the federal government.
She said most of the agricultural policies were initiated without any representation or input from the women farmers, thus leading to a misplaced of priority.
According to her, “for the past two years, we were told N60 billion is in Central Bank and 60 per cent is going to be given to women and youth, we suffered, opening bank accounts, filling forms upon forms, I have never seen one group that have accessed that money.”
She also accused the Ministry of Women Affairs of distributing forms meant to access government loan to members of the ruling party alone, thereby depriving other women from benefiting from the loan scheme.
She noted: “This one that the Ministry of Women Affairs said they are sharing forms, I went to my state when the minister came and said the forms are non-political, whatever party you belong to you are entitled to have the form, but when it comes to sharing the form they gave it to the party women leaders and they denied other women from having it, so you can see what is happening, it is not who gets what, but who knows who.”
“We want to engage with government so that we can have resources that can assist women farmers who are equally the women in the rural communities , we don’t seem to get the benefit of what the government is doing because we feel being cut off.
“We constitute about 85% of the labour force of the farming activities but when it comes to recognition we are not being recognised. We want to talk to the federal government, the state government, to recognise women farmers and whatever benefit must go down to the grassroots,” she added.
Earlier, the acting Country Director, Actionaid Nigera, Mr. Oluwole Elegbede said women farmers have been the most voiceless in influencing agricultural policies and land polices in spite of being the primary actors in the Nigeria agricultural sector.