By Leah Thomas

Small Scale Women Farmers’ Organization in Nigeria (SWOFON) Niger State chapter has submitted their demand for farm inputs and gender friendly farm equipment to the state Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

SWOFON is a coalition of women farmers Association and groups across Nigeria. This network exists with the goal of advocating for and supporting women farmers especially those in the rural areas with 500,000 rural farmers working in different communities across the 36 states of the federation.

The event was organized by small scale women farmers’ organization in Nigeria (SWOFON) with a demand which was made following women farmers road walk involving 540 rural women in Niger state. The road walk featured a procession from the trade fair complex to the Abdulsalami youth center where a coalition of demand representing the priority needs of 14,623 small holder women farmers in the state was received by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The National Co-ordinator (SWOFON), Mrs. Omaboyowa Roberts has said that small scale women farmers organization is a small holders women organization that cuts across the 36 states in Nigeria, which is currently implementing a project called holding government accountable to improve agriculture for small holders women farmers in five pilot states, Nassarawa, Niger, Jigawa, Anambra, and Oyo.

She said, for the first phase of the project, they are doing a total coalition of application where farmers drew an evaluation and they came up with the demand that certain things needs to be supported in agricultural sector and in order to improve production and for farming to become productive, there is the need for agricultural inputs, seeds and seedlings, gender friendly equipment, so that women are no longer involved in manual labour but mechanized farming thereby making Nigeria to become a food secure country.

Mrs. Roberts added that, SWOFON is amplifying the voice of smallholders’ women farmers to speak for themselves to say yes to gender friendly equipment and to say that Niger state government has to prioritize agriculture budget.

In response to the demands, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Dr. Ibrahim Garba Musa said that Niger State is the first state that keyed into the agricultural agenda of the federal republic of Nigeria and to acknowledge the fact that economic diversification particularly in agriculture is not a privilege but a right.

He reiterated that, This administration is very passionate about agricultural transformation and if agriculture in Niger State succeeds, agriculture in Nigeria has succeeded because the state has all the comparative advantage, with about 100% of the landmark of Nigeria, and over 4 million of our population more than 80% are into agriculture, our land has the advantage, we have all the water bodies that can enable us to cultivate any kind of crops year round.

The Permanent Secretary said that their demands will be presented to the higher quarter as requested and our quest to be the number one state in agricultural production in Nigeria will be actualized because the government has no option than to agree to support women which will go a long way to eradicate hunger and have food security in the country.

He mentioned that, the government is doing everything humanly possible to see that agriculture survive and strive in the state and the Ministry is collaborating with the international agencies and donors’ interventions to ensure that there is adequate extension service delivery to our farmers.

He added that, today in Niger State, we have increased production capacity for rice, we now produce 6 metric tons per hectare against 2 metric tons, and our target is 8 metric tons per hectare.

The State Coordinator, SWOFON, Mrs. Grace Disa, said that, the road walk and submission of collective demands by smallholders’ women farmers in Niger State is part of an ongoing exercise happening sequentially in five states in the Country.

She appreciated the government of Niger State and the Ministry of Agriculture for its commitment and for giving them a listening ear and accepting to look into their demands.

Mrs. Disa commended the women farmers for their zeal and for coming out in large number to achieve a common goal in ensuring that women are been given attention in terms of provision of inputs that will enhance Agriculture and ease their struggle with manual farm implements.