The Women Farmers Advancement Network (WOFAN) has embarked on the distribution of 120 reapers and 120 threshers to smallholder farmers in the rural areas.
The Executive Director WOFAN, HajiaSalamatuGarba disclosed this while distributing 2 reapers and 2 threshers to rural women at Dokpa community in Gwagwalada Area Council, Abuja.
Hajia Garba said the effort was ease farming for the smallholder farmers especially women, boost their production and introduce them to mechanization.
She said WOFAN through its partners like MasterCard, the United States African Development Foundation, (USADF) Competitive African Rice Initiative (CARI) provide the smallholder farmers with the machines as grant, then engages them in training on how to operate the machines.
“Well because of this situation that the smallholder farmers find themselves particularly the women who do the most tedious part of the farm work.
“We’re still using that old traditional method of transplanting with hand and harvesting with sickle and then we’ll start beating this rice on the drum and apart from that, it keeps a lot of sand, it is done under dirty environment, and that is the beginning of a story of the Nigerian rice where people run away from it because of stone.
“So to address that, it means we have to train the farmers to learn how to present it under a very clean environment, so we have trained them on that under the good agricultural practices, but there has never been supported to practicalise it, that’s why WOFAN decided to move a step ahead with all our partners we are working with like CARI the USADF, MasterCard, all of us put our heads together and we thought to mark the International Rural Women’s day and also the World Food Day, we should practicalise it to show that which ease using mechanization and ICT-led agriculture we can boost food production, that’s what brought about this.
She said to mark these occasion, WOFAN” has 120 reapers and we also have 120 threshers and these are the heavy duty ones that are about N580,000 each and we have 120 of each of these to give to the farmers as he set so that they will cut their rice on the farm using this machine in a very neat way and they will put it in the thresher, then the thresher can separate the paddy from the fodder”.
Hajia Garba said with the technology, farmers can do that in a very neat way, they can do about hectares of farm in a day.
“In a hectare of farm you can get between 64 bags to 70 bags which means they can do about 140 bags a day, and the farmers have confirmed to us that using this machine is equivalent to them hiring 40 man labour working for like 4 days.
“So it has saved them a lot especially women, they will save time to now look at more of their domestic issues and it will be less strenuous from them.
“This is the way we feel that the empowerment of the smallholder farmers should be so we are going to conduct this spread these machines across seven states that were working in and our seven states are Kano, Jigawa, Kaduna Nasarawa, Benue, Gombe and Adamawa”, she added.
When asked if the project would be extended to the southern part of the country, she said “we’re starting, you know for every journey, you start with one step WOFAN is 28 years old, we’ve been working in the northern region and it’s now that we’re trying to spread out.
“Based on resources availability of whatever we need, technical know how we’re able to reach the southern part of the country, more so we have sister organizations that were going to partner with, so they’ll be replicating exactly what we are doing”.
She said the aim of WOFAN is to work with these smallholder farmers, not just Nigeria but across Africa.
“This is the start off grant for them actually, and that was why we took them across the economics of production yesterday for those who attend.
“We worked it out for them normally using the manual method the pay between N25,000 to N30,000 with this machine, we have worked it out that they can pay N15,000 and they’re still able to fuel this machine and had some savings.
“So it’s like a state of grant for the groups because that is the best we can do for these people, when you are working with people that are of abject poverty, you should not subject them to some certain amount of money to say they have to bring that, but if you train them to know how to do their cash flow about what they need to do.
“So we have sat down with them, they’ve known how to open their bank account. In fact, we have an agreement with UBA, they are coming to them next week to open an account for all of them.
“So it’s going to be itself revolving scheme and we have planned with them that at the end of one year, they would have saved enough to buy additional two machines, so it makes 3 and they continue to mobe in that pattern”, she explained.
She said the of the seven states WOFAN is currently working in, 2400 groups were being targeted and each group has about 30 members.
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