By Jimoh Babatunde 

The Federal Government has launched N10 Billion Women in Agriculture Environment Impact Fund (WAEIF) in Abuja as a means of using women to unlock the country’s food potentials.
Speaking at the launch, the Minister of State, Agriculture and Rural Development Senator, Heineken Lokpobiri, said that the challenges of environmental impact have contributed largely to food scarcity in Nigeria.
He noted that insurgency, gas flaring, oil spillage, desert encroachment, flood and other environmental hazards have prevented effective participation of women in Agriculture.
Lokpobiri said that the fund will boost sustainable funding mechanism for women in Agriculture which will in turn generate employment and exchange of ideas in environmental agriculture.
Lokpobiri commended the Women Association for National Agriculture and Environment Protection (WANAEP) for the effort of fund raising which will positively impact on the on-going process of economic diversification with agriculture as the immediate best alternative key sector.
Speaking further, the Minister acknowledged the role of the private sector in solving the core issues of limited food production and the delivery of quality standards.
He said the government will compliment the private sector efforts the provision of supportive infrastructures, systems control processes and oversight.
“In this regard therefore to address the level of infrastructure challenges that face food processors and attract them into our rural areas, Government is developing the Staple Crops Processing Zones (SCPZs).
The Minister said Food manufacturing companies will therefore be attracted to locate within these zones which are densely populated by women farmers thereby bringing them closer to farmers and areas of high food production. Within these zones, he said, government shall scale up infrastructure like electricity, roads and water supply. This he said will reduce post-harvest looses, lower the cost of transporting raw materials, and stimulates rural economic growth and link farmers directly to food processing companies, he added.
            Lokpobiri said evidence has clearly shown that raising the productivity and incomes of women through such funds will not only have huge foreign exchange earning potentials but will also greatly improve household welfare especially nutrition, health and education that will be a leverage to better standard of living of every Nigerian household.


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