By Angela Atabo

Oxfam in Nigeria has called on government to enact policies that would facilitate women’s access to inputs, resources and services, including land rights to boost women’s  participation in agriculture.

Dr Vincent Ahonsi ,Country Director, Oxfam in Nigeria made the call at the Female Food Hero Award 2022 also tagged: “Ogbonge Women” organised in partnership with the Ministry with collaboration with other Civil Society Organisations.

Ahonsi represented by Mrs Ifunfun Akinduro ,Director of Finance and Admin ,Oxfam in Nigeria, said the organisation started the initiative in 2012 to encourage entrepreneurial spirit among small scale farmers in Nigeria as an approach to improving their livelihood through the formal recognition of such efforts.

The Female Food Heroes initiative is an annual award that identifies and champions women food producers who are examples of what millions of women around the world are doing to ensure food security.

The three women emerged as Female Food Heroes under the Oxfam in collaboration with Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development initiative aimed at celebrating women food producers and their contributions to food security .

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Ms Precious Onoja came first with N600 worth of goods choice and Mrs Princess Okafor came second with N400 and Damilola Awe third with N200 ,while the other finalists will get N50 ,000 each .

According to Ahonsi the principal objective of the scheme is to also recognise women small scale farmers who are demonstrating outstanding entrepreneurial spirit and best practice despite the numerous challenges they face .

“These challenges are climate change impacts, lack of access to land, market, inputs, and extension among several others.

” It is also aimed at improving livelihoods, building leadership qualities, empowerment and raising the profile of small-scale farmers’ especially female farmers.

“Oxfam believes that there can be no food justice without gender justice, contrary to the view that farming is a ‘male’ activity, carried out while women take care of the family,.

According to Ahonsi , the reality is that women play multiple roles in food security not only as food producers, farmers, and wage workers, but also as natural resource managers, food processors and traders .

He however, said that in spite of women’s crucial role, they face discrimination and have limited bargaining power.

This ,he said was because patriarchal norms create disadvantages for women farmers and wage workers, specifically in terms of land rights, small plots, difficulties attaining ownership and discriminatory inheritance rights among others .

Ahonsi said though there has been progress to ensure women’s contributions to agriculture and food security are recognised which often comes in the form of projects and activities that are gender sensitive.

He said for example , Oxfam and its partners adopted the Gender Action Learning Methodology to promote Inclusive decision-making in households that has translated into more harmonious and violence-free gender relations.

He listed others to include : Our village savings and loans initiative” that has reached over 189, 000 women out of 250, 000 participants across 8 states in the country.

He added that the Ogbonge Women have also served as great ambassadors and representatives of millions of Nigerian Women at different fora.

He however, said there was still more to be done adding that women’s economic empowerment in agriculture should be made a priority, by supporting agricultural transformation that creates an enabling environment for women to exercise their rights.

Ahonsi said there was need to significantly increase the quantity and quality of public and and support to focus on women smallholders.

Dr Ernest Umakhihe ,Permanent Secretary ,Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development appreciated Oxfam for the laudable initiative in recognising the vital role being played by women in the agriculture sector.

Umakhihe said the theme for this year’s World Food Day is “Leave no one behind, better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life”.

He said that the theme aimed at heightening awareness on the need to build a sustainable world where everyone, everywhere has regular access to enough nutritious food with no one left behind.

“Our Female Food Heroes Award, an initiative of Oxfam, an event that identifies women food producers who are playing leading roles in agricultural development, helping to end world hunger and increasing food security.

“The award is to celebrate outstanding women farmers who have made significant contributions to their communities in the face of daunting challenges to agricultural production. ”

Umakhihe said the ministry was working to ensure that no-one was left behind through its numerous policies.

He added that the ministry in an effort and commitment to promote gender inclusiveness rolled -out agriculture inputs to small-holder women farmers as a palliative to cushion the effects of COVID-

He added that plans were underway to donate more farm inputs to our female farmers in the country in order to empower them, strengthen their economic independence and increase their engagement in agriculture thereby boosting their livelihoods and enhancing the drive to food security.

Ms Monica Maigari ,a grassroots farmer and treasurer of the Ogbonge Women group commended Oxfam and ministry of Agric for the initiative to support women farmers .

Maigari said that female farmers were faced with numerous challenges from access to funds to fertilizers among others and appealed to the government to come to their aid .

“We have been facing a lot of problems , whenever fertiliser is brought to our communities only the men are given knowing that it is women who use their produce to feed homes because men sell their own farm produce .

“So we want the government to help us have access to fertiliser by making provisions for women too. We also don’t get loans because they demand collateral that we don’t have. “(NAN)

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