ActionAid Nigeria, AAN, has called on the federal government to ease access to loan facilities by rural women across the country.
The Program Coordinator on Food and Agriculture, AAN, Azubike Nwokoye, made the call during a roundtable meeting on access to agricultural credit for small holder women farmers.
She urged the federal government consider policies that would ameliorate this challenge experienced by women farmers.
Nwokoye called on the Central Bank, Bank of Agriculture, Bank of Industry, BoI, NIRSAL, and even commercial banks to feel the pulse and plight of women farmers who have been the strong work force in the agricultural sector and do a review of its policies on accessing loans.
According to him, “If it is consultants that FMARD will get to support different women cooperatives to be able to access the available funding. The process will ensure that other services will be accessed, given the right support, and they should be able to pay on time.
“Due to the security situation in the country and even issues of climate change, paying back the loan could be difficult, that’s why we mentioned the agricultural insurance to go hand-in-hand with the credit facilities.”
Also, the Secretary, Small Scale Women’s Farmers Organization in Nigeria, SWOFON, Nnanna Mercy, called on the government to be gender sensitive in designing financial programmes that will make women farmers have easy access to loans facilities.
“For farming activities, it has been good and bad. For every woman, especially in accessing agricultural loans, it is very difficult. Government as you know is business oriented and as you know is not favourable to rural women. The way it is designed makes it difficult for the average woman-farmer to access.
“The government finances are mostly accessed by portfolio farmers, political farmers, because when you design a program for rural women and you are telling them to bring level 14officer as a guarantor, or you are telling them to bring a landed property, these are constraints that are really affecting rural women.
“What we are saying is that we should be gender sensitive in designing our financial program, owing to all these constraints that women are suffering, let us streamline it to the womenfolk, in such a way that there should be some kind of understanding.
“Gender sensitivity should be considered and looked into; neglecting a woman in the agricultural sector is like neglecting agriculture. It is a fact that a woman contributes about 70 percent in agricultural workforce, and then you neglect such huge amount of people?”, Mercy said.
On his part, Deputy Director, Gender and Youth Department of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Mohammed Bashir, said the Ministry is concerned about rural women farmers and is putting in place solutions that will ease grievances.
“Basically, since agric is going to be pursued as a business it is going to operate in a private sense. But there are a lot of problems that are bedeviling the financial sector, institutions, access to grant by women.
“Most of our farmers especially women are illiterates, we believe that no matter how, government must assist in seeing that this process is considered, the Honorable Minister haven discovered that, has made arrangement to see that we really reach the genuine farmers among the women”, Bashir stated.