EXECUTIVE Director, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), Dr Abiola Afolabi, has said that about 80 per cent of foods produced in Benue are from women farmers.
Consequently, Afolabi called on state and Federal Governments to support women who are into agriculture with needed inputs.
Afolabi, who spoke in Makurdi, Benue State capital, during the launching of the ‘’Benue State Make Agriculture Work for Women’’ and sensitisation visit to some MDAs by Small Holder Women Farmers in the state, supported by the USAID, said that such inputs would guarantee mass production of food.
She particularly urged Benue State government to increase its support for agriculture by providing gender and friendly agricultural policies that would ensure women contributions are more visible.
Dr Afolabi said that about 80 per cent of the agricultural labour force in the state is women and smallholder farmers, stating that the women also produced the bulk of food for domestic consumption.
‘’In spite of this, these women farmers have limited access to credit facilities, farm inputs, training and advice, technology, farmland and fall victims of herdsmen’s attacks because they are been raped,” Dr Afolabi lamented.
She said that despite government’s avowed commitment to drive the economy through agriculture and expand food production to reduce hunger, “women farmers who constitute about 80 per cent labour in food production, food processing and marketing are yet to have special support and assistance necessary to realise their potentials in agriculture.
“It is estimated that if women had the same access to finance, land, technology and training and advice as men, they could contribute significantly to the country’s achieving the goal of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger,” Dr Afolabi stated
In her remarks, Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs Mwuese Mnyim, said that the issue of women farmers cannot be separated from the broader issue of gender equality and women empowerment across the globe.
Mrs Mnyim disclosed that the state government is passionate about farming and very committed to encouraging women which is evident in the dedication of 40 per cent of farmland in the state to women to farm.