Malabo Declaration: Women farmers want 10% budgetary allocation to agric sector
Mrs Mary Afan, National President, Small-Scale Women Farmers Organisation of Nigeria (SWOFON), has called for 10 per cent budgetary allocation to the country’s agricultural sector, as stipulated in the Malabo Declaration.
Afan told newsmen in Abuja on Monday that the upward review of budgetary allocation to agriculture would encourage more women and youths to embrace agriculture and boost food production.
The Maputo Declaration states that African nations should commit at least 10 per cent of their annual budgets to finance the agricultural sector.
The declaration was made at the Second Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) in July 2003 in Maputo.
The goals of the declaration, which was a formal commitment by AU Heads of States and Governments, include ending hunger on the continent and tripling intra-African trade in agricultural goods, among others.
Afan stressed that the level of funding of the country’s agricultural sector was still very low, compared to the recommended 10 per cent of national budgets in the Maputo Declaration.
She said that after the declaration, Nigeria had yet to make any meaningful progress in achieving the stated goals, urging the Federal Government to make pragmatic efforts to make agricultural sector more attractive.
“With the support of the Voices of Malabo Declaration, we have been able to engage the government and ask if they are aware of our commitments in the agreement of African Heads of States.
“The leaders met in Malabo, capital of Equatorial Guinea, where they all agreed that 10 per cent of the total budget of every country should go to the agriculture sector, in order to attain at least six per cent annual growth in the countries’ economy.
“This will reduce the hunger in the country, particularly now that the oil price in the international markets has fallen; it will also increase the income of farmers in the rural communities.
“We want to engage the government on this so as to ensure that the agriculture sector receives the desired attention, based on its strategic position in economic development and poverty eradication efforts,” she said.
The SWOFON leader also called for increased security for women farmers, adding that the insecurity of women farmers had been a major challenge facing their efforts to boost food production.
Afan said that most women farmers had to resort to hiring boys to provide security for them whenever they were working in their farms due to the fear of attacks by unknown gunmen.
“If the boys guard my farm today, tomorrow they will go to another person’s farm and you have to pay them for the services rendered.
“And if you have to pay for security to enable you to produce food; then, how much will you sell the crops after harvests?
“I have records of about three to four women farmers who were killed in their farms by unknown gunmen, while they were working there with their children.
“Most of what the women farmers produce is for their daily consumption because they cannot expand their production to the level of selling crops to make money.
“We thank God there is peace in some states now, thereby allowing women go about their normal farming business; we are hoping to have bumper harvests this year, ” she added.
Afan, however, called on the government to extend its intervention agricultural programmes to cover women farmers, particularly in the poultry, fishery and piggery sub-sectors.