Diversification: Women farmers want African govts to implement Mabuto Agric policy

Leaders of women farmers in Africa have urged governments across the continent to honuor the Mabuto declaration and commit 10 percent of their annual budget to agriculture, to ensure food security and economic growth of the continent.

They made the plea yesterday in Abuja at a three-day Rural Women Farmers Forum (RWFF), Leadership Capacity Building Training and 5th Annual ‘Continental’ Planning meeting organised by the ActionAid Nigeria (AAN).

The 2003 African Union (AU) Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security requires African countries to allocate at least 10 percent of their annual budgets to agriculture and achieve six percent annual GDP growth in the sector.

Though a signatory to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), reached in Mabuto, Mozambique, Nigeria is committing less than two percent of its 2017 budget to agriculture.

The 1st Vice President of RWFF Mrs. Mary Afan, said many countries are yet to honour the Mabuto arrangement and that the negative implication of ‎this on small holder women farmers, who have been deprived access to government interventions like credit and extension services.

“We don’t even have access to good rural feeder roads to transport our produce to markets. In the end, this challenge contributes to food scarcity in our countries,” she said.

Also, the Country Director of AAN Ojobo Ode Atuluku, called for drastic policy actions that would boost the welfare of women farmers on the continent.

She said the place of women farmers is in the center of policy making, because the bulk of food consumed in Africa are produced by women farmers.

“It is time that governments recognize the importance of small holder farmers. I am happy to say there is little gains, but the problem is that the gains are too slow and they are coming a bit too late, except there are drastic actions around that.

“We appreciate the progress recorded in the policies issues we see around, but the progress will not happen unless women farmers are organized, and that is happening because of the unity of women farmers across Africa,” Atuluku said.

Identifying some of the challenges facing women farmers in Nigeria the Assistant Director, Women in Agriculture and Vulnerable Groups at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Hajiya Sugra Mahmood, said financial illiteracy has prevented women from accessing some of the funds dedicated to them.

She explained that the Nigerian government has committed huge funds to provide credits for farmers and small business owners, but pointed that a bulk of those funds has remained un-accessed, especially by women farmers.

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