The Country Women Association of Nigeria (COWAN), Plateau Chapter, has called for the deployment of more Agricultural extension workers to rural Plateau communities.
Mrs Jessica Vonkat, the State Coordinator of COWAN in Plateau, made the call in an interview with a Journalist on Friday, in Jos.
She noted that the extension workers could teach rural women farmers improved farming methods to boost their yield, improve their income and ensure food supply, commensurate with market demand.
The COWAN official said the international day for rural women celebrated annually on Oct. 15 by the United Nations, was to highlight the critical role rural women play in food production globally.
The 2021 theme for the International Day of Rural Women is: “Rural women cultivating good food for all.”
She added that the extension workers could similarly train the women farmers, through illustrations of appropriate application of farm chemicals, using demonstration farms, while also educating them on processing and marketing of agricultural commodities and services.
Vonkat decried the low yield of farm produce due to lack of access to information on improved farming practices, as women were not given the appropriate value for their food crops.
“Women should be given value for their products, people squeeze them for discount and they are left with little income, for example, N3, 000 worth of products is sold at N1,000, so how can they pay their loans,” she said .
She urged governments, at all levels, to provide improved seedlings to rural women farmers who, she claimed, produced 80 percent of food consumed in Nigeria.
“The rural women farmers are the major producers of food in Nigeria because 80% of food consumed is produced by them. Other farmers take it to industries but women take their farm produce to the market to sell,” she said.
Rural women farmers in Plateau experience hardship in accessing land for farming, because of the patriarchal system, and that even when they have resources, they still have to go through their sons or husbands before farms could be leased to them, Vonkat said.
She lamented the high prices of fertilizer and other farm inputs, which contribute to limiting farming activities, whereas they are critical to good farm yields and food security.
“How many rural women farmers can afford fertilizer at N15,000? Lack of it limits farming activities because if you farm without fertilizer you are just wasting your time, energy and efforts especially in the northern and southern zones of Plateau,” she said.
The COWAN official also called for the deployment of modern farming technology, such as tractors, to be made accessible to the rural women farmers for land cultivation.
“If the government can make deliberate efforts to help bring those tractors, it will be of great help to rural women,” She said.