ActionAid Nigeria and the Small-Scale Women Farmers Organisation in Nigeria (SWOFON) have called for the involvement of smallholder women farmers in agriculture budgeting and policy-making processes at all levels of government.

The call came in a communique issued by both organisations at the end of a two-day SWOFON Annual National Forum hosted by ActionAid Nigeria in Abuja on Tuesday.

The communique stated that farmers, especially smallholder women farmers, were not currently part of the agriculture budgeting and policy-making processes.

According to the organisations, this is in spite of the fact that they produce over 70 per cent of foods consumed in the country.

They blamed the ‘exclusion’ on lack of formal strategy for their `involvement resulting in the untapped potential of the women farmers and the attendant low productivity’.

ActionAid and SWOFON also called for an urgent review of the Land Use Act to address the issue of gender discrimination in land ownership.

They urged the Federal and State Ministries of Agriculture to create specific yearly budget line items for smallholder women farmers.

They enjoined Ministries of Agriculture to allocate at least 10 per cent of their annual budget each year in fulfilment of the Maputo Declaration.

The communique said: “Cheap and easy access to credit at single digit interest rate should be made available to smallholder women farmers across Nigeria.

“The Rural Development Department of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development need to support smallholder women farmers with the installation of solar-powered boreholes to help with irrigation farming and household use in rural households and communities.

“Federal and State Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development need to ensure that extension agents across the 36 states and the FCT train smallholder women farmers on the proper use of agro-chemicals.

“SWOFON should be included in the National Agriculture Council of Nigeria to represent women farmers.’’

The communique equally urged the Federal and State Governments to increase their funding of extension services and support smallholder women farmers by employing female extension officers.

It reiterated the call by women farmers for the restoration of the scrapped Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme of the Federal Government.

The scheme was initiated by the immediate past Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akinwumi Adesina for Nigerian farmers.

GES was a farm support initiative through which registered farmers had access to quality seeds, fertilisers and agro-chemicals at 50 per cent subsidised price.

However, the scheme was bedevilled by many challenges, including the supply of substandard inputs to farmers.

This prompted the current administration to announce its replacement with the Agricultural Inputs and Mechanisation Scheme (AIMS).

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