Food

Nigerian Agricultural Researchers Seek Support For Women In Agriculture

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The Nigerian Women in Agricultural Research for Development (NiWARD) has appealed to Government at all levels, Non-Governmental organizations, as well as corporate bodies in the country to assist female farmers in the nation.

The appeal was made at the 10th NiWARD annual conference with the theme: “Innovation ideas and research outputs for Agricultural development,’ in Lagos State.

Professor Stella Williams of Agric Economics Department, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), in her address restated the call for the inclusion of women in agriculture in Government policies.

She lamented that women are not visible at the helm of affairs in Government, as men tend to take over all positions in the country, stating that the Government has not been supporting women in agriculture like other nations do.

“Because women are not political in their orientation, they are not pushed first. If we do not have the financial support, we cannot do much; we don’t have any financial support. It’s from our membership dues that we get funds.”

For NiWARD to be able to make it, she said: “We need funds from the federal level, state, local Government levels. We need to be politically engendered into whoever are the political leaders to work with them right from the grassroots. In Nigeria, most times, it is a top-bottom approach to who you know in the society. If you are not financially supported, there is very little that you can do. Even when you go to the rural villages, if they do not see you supporting their activities, they will listen to you and once you turn your back that is the end. So we would like to seek partnership with members of the American Institute, East African, South African institutions, among others, so that we will be able to make progress.”

Professor Oluyemisi Fawole of Agronomy Department, University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), said that the annual conference brings together all the award fellows, award mentors and award mentees.

She said the fellowship of African women in agricultural research and development years back enables them to impact the community.

“The fellows are brought together so that we can impact the community around us.We have put together capacity training for scientists who are interested in agricultural development, in gender responses, agricultural research, bridging the gap between men and women, and to ensure that more women are trained in agricultural development.”

She expressed the belief that when more women are trained in agriculture, they will be able to solve the problems that we have in Nigeria. When you look at the value chain of research planting crops, you will find women.

“The only way to solve the challenges facing them is to get the support of the government to make it a reality.”

She said that a lot of advocacies to get Government ’s support for agricultural research have been made, adding: “We will link up with the persons and organisations to get funds that can be used to develop certain areas in the agricultural sector.”

Also at the event, Counselor for Agricultural Affairs, U.S. Mission, Nigeria, Dr. Gerald Smith, described the program as another momentous day dedicated to “promoting a gender-responsive agricultural innovation system for food and nutrition security across Nigeria.”

Restating the United States Department for Agricultural (USDA’s) determination to collaborate with varied stakeholders across Nigeria’s expanding food value chain, Smith noted that “USDA supports robust research output and innovation that are increasing agricultural productivity and efficiency.”

He said that an “innovative agricultural sector plays a strategic role in improving the availability of food and achieving food security,” adding that Nigeria’s burgeoning aquaculture sector is positioned to be one of the driving forces needed to address food and nutrition security.

Smith noted that “Through USDA support in tandem with the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH), Nigerian researchers and food scientists are working on iron-fortified soy flour-garri blend.”

The U.S. Agriculture Counselor noted that WISHH began the pioneering research work in Liberia on a USAID project, which provided important field research knowledge on positive acceptability of the soy-based garri, particularly for women and children.

According to Smith, USDA-supported researches continue to address challenges that still face nutrient- deficient communities across Nigeria.

This research is capitalising on soy-flour garri as a suitable product to fight widespread iron-deficiency not only in Nigeria but in many west African countries.

The USDA boss stated that through the USDA support, WISHH-led training sessions and workshops are also delivering breakthrough aquaculture science approaches in breeding and feed management.

He pledged the USDA support to help foster smallholder farming and processing enterprises, adding that the USDA further supports Nigeria’s efforts to diversify its economy through innovative value addition strategies.

NiWARD, which consists of a group of Nigerian Scientists from a number of Universities, Agricultural Research Institutions and Private Organizations based, is Nigeria’s chapter of the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD.)

Independent

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