By Ginika Okoye
The Federal Government in collaboration with ECOWAS and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), have concluded strategic plans to address gender inequality in agriculture across West Africa.
The Deputy Director, Federal Department of Extension Services, Mrs Karima Babangida said that gender equality remained the way forward for agricultural development.
Babangida said this at a validation workshop on the Country’s Gender Assessment of the Agricultural and Rural sectors in Abuja on Tuesday.
She said the role of women in food production and processing could not be over emphasised as they contribute a huge percentage of the labour required.
According to her, in spite of the contribution of women to the development of agriculture, they are marginalised due to their low literacy level.
She noted that women lacked access to land, finance, extension services and farm input, among others.
In her remarks, ECOWAS Head of Gender Division, Dr Bolanle Adetioun, said women were critical in achieving food sufficiency in West Africa.
She said all hands must be on deck to address the challenges faced by women farmers to ensure industrialisation through agriculture in the sub-region.
In addition, Adetioun said it would further guarantee food security and nutrition for the family.
According to her, women are very active in all the stages along all agricultural value chains and remain major stakeholders in reviving the sector.
She identified years of neglect of the agriculture sector as the reason for the recent economic difficulties facing the sub-region.
Also speaking, the FAO Country Representative in Nigeria, Mr NournMacki Tall, said the country gender assessment was jointly undertaken by FAO and ECOWAS.
Represented by FAO Programme Assistant, Ms Saadiya Ibrahim, Tall said the initiative sought to identify gender gaps and provide baseline for the 2nd Generation of Regional and National Agricultural Investment Plans being developed by ECOWAS member states.
Tall said the workshop would develop a draft ECOWAS action plan on gender and agriculture that would influence formulation, financing, implementation and monitoring of gender responsive plan in the region.
He said the outcome of the workshop would also advance gender equality, women empowerment and the ECOWAS Zero-Hunger Initiative in the region.