By Philomina Attah
Women farmers under the umbrella of Small-Scale Women Farmers Organisation in Nigeria (SWOFON) have called for restoration of scrapped Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES) scheme.
They made the call at the end of a two-day annual national farmers forum for smallholder women farmers organised by Actionaid Nigeria, an NGO.
In separate comments at the event, the women said they lacked access to improved seeds and other farm inputs, which the GES was meant to provide.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the scheme was initiated by the immediate-past Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, for Nigerian farmers.
GES was a farm support initiative through which registered farmers had access to quality seeds, fertilisers and agro-chemicals at 50 per cent subsidised price.
However, the scheme was bedevilled by many challenges, including supply of substandard inputs to farmers.
This prompted the current administration to announce its replacement with the Agricultural Inputs and Mechanisation scheme (AIMS).
Mrs Ngizan Chahul from Benue said since the GES was scrapped, it had been difficult for her and other fellow woman farmers to access quality inputs.
She appealed to the Federal Government to come to their aid by either restoring GES or ensuring effective implementation of AIMS to boost productivity.
She equally urged government to closely monitor its intervention programmes to ensure that they were not hijacked by “political farmers”.
Mrs Suzan Godwin from Nasarawa State said that women farmers ought to be involved in the policy formulation process to protect their interests.
Another participant from Benue, Mrs Bridget Adejo, appealed to the Federal Government to make the location of silos it recently established known to them.
This, she said, would enable smallholder farmers to locate and take advantage of the storage facilities to avoid post-harvest losses.
Another farmer, Mrs Bola Adebayo from Osun, urged government to buy insurance for farmers who lost their crops to farmers/herders clash and to also address the situation.
However, Mrs Aisha Abubakar of the FCT Agriculture Development Project, urged the women not to wait for government to do everything for them.
Abubakar noted that they could engage the services of extension workers under the Agricultural Development Programmes (ADPs) in their respective states.
Mrs Constance Okeke, the SWOFON Board Chairperson, thanked Actionaid Nigeria for providing the platform and support to the association since inception.
The forum attracted women farmers from the 36 states of the federation to deliberate on their challenges and to seek solutions.