‘Hunger, Poverty’ll Persist until Women Farmers’ Efforts are Recognised’

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*As NGO helps rural pregnant women in Kogi

Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

‎A women rights group, Women Advocates’ Research and Documentation Centre‎ (WARDC) has warned that the burden of poverty and hunger in the society will persist if the efforts of women farmers are not recognised.

It added that while several governments have made public pronouncements on ensuring that poverty and hunger are eradicated, the country has not been able to address poverty even though they are crucial to ensuring increase food production and food security.

The Executive Director of WARDC, Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi ‎made the call in Abuja at a recent policy dialogue to examine existing agricultural policies as it relates to women farmers and promotes the linkage between Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and gender inclusive agricultural sector.

The policy dialogue was organised by the non-governmental organisation (NGO) in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), with the theme; ‘Roadmap to an Inclusive Policy Option for Female Smallholder Farmers in Nigeria Agricultural Sector‎’.‎
Akiyode-Afolabi‎ stated: “Women no doubt constitute about 50 per cent of the population and if women efforts are not recognised in the agricultural sector, the society might not be able to address the huge burden of hunger and poverty,

“In spite of these enormous tasks, they have limited access to land, credit facilities, farm inputs, training and advice, technology and crop insurance among other things. Most importantly, they are poorly represented in agricultural sector and spaces. Thus lacking voice, representation and adequate participation,” she said.
Akiyode-Afolabi lamented that women small holder farmers have just 14 per cent of holding rights ‎on land where they farm.

According to her, despite the roles of women farmers in food production, government agricultural policies hardly focus on supporting them, stressing that it was estimated that if women had the same access to finance, land, technology as men, they could contribute significantly to achievement of the SDGs of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger.

The Executive Director stated that, ‎”having a nuanced policy can support more representation, voice and participation of women in agriculture.”
Also, Head of Gender desk, and Assistant Director, Ministry of Agriculture said if Nigeria was really determined to achieve food security, then, challenges facing women farmers around the country would be addressed.

Meanwhile, a Nigerian non-governmental organization, Rural Mobile Health Initiative (RMHI) is saving the lives of pregnant women in rural communities at Igalamela Local Government, Kogi state.

The project officer, Mr. Leo Akor, disclosed in a release that the Initiative has saved the lives of 70 women by making sure they put to bed successfully. Giving a breakdown of the figure, Akor said, in 2014, the initiative saved the lives of 27 women; in 2015, 31 women lives were saved, while in 2016, 12 women were saved.

Apart from the 70 women lives that were saved, 415 children and infants were treated and 100 bottles of Piccan syrup distributed to 68 children suffering from teething, he said.
The rural villages rely on the Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) for healthcare delivery during childbirth, although many of the TBAs do not possess the necessary knowledge and skills to help women for safe delivery. The RMHI, in an effort to address the TBAs skill gap, identified and trained 11 TBAs selected across eleven communities.