The Nigeria Country Director, African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Ousmane Dore, said that Nigerian women contributed close to 70 percent of agricultural workforce yet got less of accruing returns.
Dore said this at the launching of African women in agriculture report titled, ‘Economic empowerment of African women through equitable participation in agricultural value chains’, on Monday in Abuja.
He said that the report aimed at contributing to the economic empowerment of African women in agriculture, through identification and proffering of possible solutions to hindrances to women’s active participation in agricultural value chains.
“In spite of their (women) huge labour investment, productivity is low and they often have limited roles in decision making on the farms.
“Lack of ownership of land and other productive assets due to existing social norms has created a significant negative impact on the family income and the nation’s GDP at large,’’ Dore said.
He said that the bank recognised crucial role of women in economic growth and sustainability in Africa.
Dore said that the bank’s 10 years strategies (2012-2022) had placed high emphasis on gender equality and mainstreaming as prerequisites for African economic transformation.
He said that the report had examined how AfDB and partners could sustainably and proactively support African women by developing unique tailor-made projects for women-led and women-dominated businesses in agriculture.
Dore said that the entities included support for trade, investment and integration of African women in agriculture value chains.
“In Nigeria, women make up to 50 percent of the total national population and so any meaningful development must take them into reckoning and fully integrated into the equation,’’ he added.
Special Envoy on Gender, Mrs Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, said that agriculture was a critical sector on the continent, accounting for 60 percent of employment.
Fraser-Moleketi said that women’s presence in agricultural labour force was significant at 50 percent, therefore, there was no better overlapping opportunity to support their economic empowerment and strengthen a critical sector on the continent.
“We (bank) need to grow agribusiness entrepreneurs (commercial farms, processing, export) by creating niche products within the four sectors we (bank) have prioritised – cocoa, cotton, cassava and coffee.
“To make these a reality, five interventions are required – training, increasing access to inputs, financing, enhancing market links and expanding co-operative programmes like women co-operatives.
“I believe that being ambitious about how we implement the interventions identified in the report could change the face of agriculture in Africa and empower millions of women,’’ Fraser-Moleketi said.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Sunny Echono, said women are the cornerstone of agricultural production, processing, marketing and utilisation in the country.
The Permanent Secretary was represented by the ministry’s Deputy Director, Extension, Mr Dele Onorunfemi.
Echono said Nigeria’s agriculture could never achieve any meaningful development without mainstreaming concern into the nation’s policy and programme.
“Women supply 70 percent of agricultural labour; 50 percent of animal husbandry related activities and 60 percent of food processing, yet they have access to only 20 percent of available agricultural resources.
“Despite these challenges, women are the cornerstone of agricultural production, processing, marketing and utilisation.
“They (women) play vital roles in the maintenance of our families, investing as much as 90 percent of their income in the families compared to 35 percent for men,’’ Echono said. (NAN)