Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation in Nigeria (SWOFON), in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, is seeking more inclusion in the agriculture budgetary allocation process of the FCT that will take into cognizance of their need and livelihood as farmers, and help improve their yield per hectare.
The appeal is part of the recommendations contained in a communiqué reached at the end of the 2019 FCT Consultative/Citizens Dialogue on the FCT Agriculture Budget Forum, by SWOFON representing the six area councils In Abuja.
Speaking with journalists on the sidelines of the Dialogue, National Coordinator, SWOFON, Omaboyowa Roberts, called for a more inclusive and gender-responsive agriculture policy and budget making processes in Nigeria, moving forward.
She commended the Agriculture and Rural Development Secretariat (FCT) Department (FCTARD) and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture And Rural Development Department for collaborating with the women farmers by consulting them during budget planning for 2019.
SWOFON, however, expressed disappointment there is no formal guideline for involving smallholder women farmers in the budget cycle in the FCT, insisting that the FCT budget is not a reflection of farmers needs and demands.
According to them, the FCT budget to the agricultural sector has not only been non-compliant to the 10 per cent annual budgetary allocation provided in the Maputo/Malabo Declaration; but also lack timely passage and full release of budgeted funds for agricultural development.
Indeed, the total statutory appropriation to the sector from 2014-2018 only increased by 22.11 per cent between 2017 and 2018, while total appropriation over the same period grew by only 14 per cent. But the real value of the N4.4billion appropriation to the sector was only N3.4billion representing a shortfall of N5.4million.
The communiqué stressed the need for budget-line allocation to “Women In Agriculture” in the FCT Budget to be broken down to line items for a proper understanding of the programme, and to also facilitate smallholder women access to the programme and improve monitoring procedures by the Agriculture Development Programme.
On her part, Byencit Nimpar, Principal Planning Officer, FCT Agric and Rural Development Secretariat, disclosed of plans to set up a cassava processing zone in the Gwagwalada Area Council, adding that there was already a rice processing unit in Gwagwalada.
She added that the secretariat always conducts training for farmers in the FCT, on how to improve their yield and the distribution of inputs like seeds, fertilisers herbicides etc
“Our goal is to improve food production in our country. As the Agric secretariat of the FCT, we want to make sure that FCT and Nigeria as a whole have food security because once there is food, we believe everyone will be happy.” She stated.
Also speaking, an executive of SWOFON FCT, Zainab Mohammed, decried that women were not able to access loans due to the very rigorous processes involved.
“We are aware of the loans in the FCT budget, but we did not benefit from it because the process is too hard. We went several times but when we saw the process, we decided that it’s better we go back to our farms. The last time I got a loan was seven years ago,” she said.