By Oluwatobi Omosalewa Fademi
The wife of the Ondo State Governor, Mrs. Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu has decried the gender inequality that exists in the agricultural sector, citing it as the worst of all gender inequality issues in the society.
Speaking at an Agriculture Stakeholders’ Meeting put together by the office of the Wife of Ondo State Governor at the Babafunke Ajasin Hall in Akure; a follow- up meeting to the African Women in Agriculture (AWA) 2018 Summit which took place in Morocco, May 2018 where African Women had the opportunity to showcase their businesses. Mrs. Akeredolu expressed concern that women who make up more than half of the farming population in Nigeria are continuously marginalized.
According to her, women invest more time in the farm compared to men yet they achieve the least gain, a situation she termed totally unacceptable thus the need to make conscientious effort to ensure that women in agriculture gain what corresponds to their effort in farming.
Mrs. Akeredolu who also observed that supporting women in agriculture is not only the right thing to do but something that must be done to ensure the survival of the family. She stressed that an economically empowered woman will be in a better position to raise well-nourished children.
“As you all know, malnourished children will be retarded in growth, unable to learn and also be at risk of many health challenges. This is a major threat to our development as a nation and we must tackle it head-on.
“Women who have for many decades been relegated to the back seat in the agricultural sector must now be empowered to participate and gain equally with the men. This is not peculiar to Nigeria, it is a global call. It is time to make a paradigm shift from what we have been doing that never worked; that is the whole essence of this programme,” she stressed that the goal of the meeting was to galvanize women into taking serious interest in agriculture.
Drawing from the Ilu-Abo experience, Mrs. Akeredolu reviewed that plans are underway to use the community to showcase that farming can be integrated to aid government school feeding programme as a lot of gaps have been noticed in the implementation of the programme.
”It is only wise for the coordinators of the programme to saddle local farmers with the responsibility of providing the agriculture produce needed to implement the school feeding programmes. Meals should not be sourced from elsewhere, if the host community has the potential of supplying the agricultural produce needed to feed school children in their community” she further stressed.
Sharing her success story, Mrs. Ibidunni Ogunleye, a poultry farmer who participated at the African Women in Agriculture 2018 Summit in Morocco noted that she started out her poultry business with 50 birds and today, it is about 5,000.
Mrs. Ogunleye challenged women not to continue to wait for government’s intervention before taking up small scale opportunities. She however urged the men to go into technologies that would make the process of production easy for their wives.
While also calling on the government to open up rural routes for easy transportation of farm produce, Mrs. Ogunleye called on the youths to take up opportunities in Agriculture stressing that education is never a hindrance to becoming successful in agricultural business.
In her own presentation, Mrs. Zubaida Zammaka, a successful dairy farmer from Kano, observed that with just 2 cows as start-up, she has been able to build L& Z dairy product into a brand that now traverses major Nigerian cities and can boast of about 10,000 litres of milk production per day.
Mrs. Zammaka however challenged other women to take up small scale opportunities rather than wait for the government to come to their aid.
Earlier in his address, the Vice Chancellor, Adekunle Ajasin University, Prof. Igbekele Ajibefun stressed that the university is working assiduously to redress the issue of aging farmers by encouraging young people to be actively involved in agricultural processes.
Prof. Ajibefun who was ably represented by Prof. Adebayo Aromolaran acknowledged the roles played by women saying that when more women are exposed to their rights and technology, they will be in a position to access land for agricultural use.
While also lauding Mrs. Akeredolu for taking up the initiative to organize the meeting which he said was very crucial, Prof. Ajibefun observed the need to continue to encourage women as 80% of foods produced in Africa are majorly done by women.
The event also featured a special report on AWA summit at Morocco by Dr. Mrs. Adelodun Fadare who highlighted the goal of AWA as encouraging women inclusiveness in agriculture.