IN ITS bid to ascertain and increase women participation in agriculture in Anambra State, a team of observers from the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) and representatives of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Monday, met with farmers funded by IFAD and Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) at the Nnedimma Rice Processing Mill, Omor in Ayamelum Local Government Area.
In his remarks, Country Programme Officer of IFAD, Ben Odoemena said they came to find out the challenges the farmers were faced with and also ways to mitigate those challenges.
“There are two crops which the programme supports it’s production, these are rice and cassava and our coming is to find out how you are fairing in production of these crops and also to find out the number of women farmers here.”
An IFAD consultant, Musa Dala stated that from a survey carried out in all nine states where IFAD-VCDP operates in Nigeria, only 36 per cent women are into agriculture. “We’re not happy with these findings because women bear much of the problem in rural areas.” He added that the aim is to step up women participation to at least 50 per cent.
Speaking also, Chairman, Ayamelum Local Government Area, Ben Onyeabo thanked the team for their presence and interest in the local government, saying the programme has affected farmers in the area positively.
He pledged to do what he could to support the programme and farmers in the area.
Some of the farmers who spoke complained of not being able to access loans from banks as a result of delays from the banks such that when the loans come, the farming season would have gone and that local lenders lend to them with 100 per cent interest which reduces the profits they make drastically.
On why cassava is not fairing as much as rice, a cassava farmer, Anthonia Obiakor said there are no ready off-takers of the products thus causing them to have gluts and subsequent loss.
She added that there is a need to educate people on benefits of yellow root cassava which is good for the eyes but is rejected by buyers. She pleaded for more support by getting off-takers and garri processing equipment to improve the processing aspect of cassava.
On the low number of women participation in agriculture, it was attributed to cultural values of people in the area, where women don’t own lands.
In his closing remarks, Dr. Odoemena commended farmers in the area for their efforts.
“I’m impressed with what I met on ground. Basically, the purpose of this programme is to eliminate poverty in the rural areas. Going by their testimonies, they have come out of poverty and are making good money from cassava and rice.”
He added that the Community Agriculture Forum is also doing a good job of facilitating businesses in their community which has helped in terms of policy dialogue and to solve their rural problem, provide road facilities in the villages.
He urged the farmers on integrity so as not to fail their financial lenders and advised other farmers to join the IFAD-VCDP programme and improve their livelihood as agriculture is a business and must be seen as such.
Other members of the team includes; Paul Piur, Chris Molokwu, Daniel Abah, Musa Dala, Prince Azoh, Nweze Nnamdi and Andrew Oseloke.