In 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, ActionAid Nigeria’s Public Financing for Agriculture, PFA, project has helped over 15, 000 smallholder women farmers’ cooperatives improve productivity.

This was revealed by AAN’s Country Director, Ene Obi, in his welcome address at the Public Financing for Agriculture (PFA) Learning and Close-Out Meeting in Abuja.

According to Obi, the PFA Project is intended to catalyze increased quantity and quality of public investment in agriculture in Nigeria in order to increase the productivity and well-being of women smallholder farmers, their households, and communities.

She further stated that the project was able to empower smallholder women farmers and Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, through capacity building, evidence-based data generation and creation of policy and programmes influencing spaces.

She added that the Project also initiated the formation of the largest movement of smallholder women farmers in Nigeria; Small-Scale Women Farmers Organization in Nigeria (SWOFON) which is giving voice to smallholder women in the 36 States in Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory.

She also appreciated individuals, government institutions and organisations who contributed to the progress recorded by the PFA Project.

She said: “Members and non-members of SWOFON across Nigeria now benefiting from government support and services; including training, extension services, inputs, credit, grants, agricultural machinery, and facilities which hitherto they never benefited from.

“We have invited you all here today to share the successes and learnings of the Public Financing for Agriculture (PFA) Project with key stakeholders and to officially close out the PFA Project.

“Some of the lessons learnt include that supporting smallholder women farmers associations results in wider reach of programme interventions and effective advocacy for policy change by smallholder women farmers at all levels where the organisation has a presence.

“For example, the Small-Scale Women Farmers Organization in Nigeria (SWOFON) now covers 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) of Nigeria and reaching over 15,000 cooperatives whose members have influenced agriculture financing policies for smallholder farmers.

“Working in collaboration with other organisations helps us to better leverage on each other’s area of strengths, additional resources, and skills.”

She also expressed optimism that, “Nigeria can feed itself and feed many countries in Africa. Serious attention and investment is needed. Agriculture used to be the main economic stay of Nigeria, and Nigeria is so blessed with both natural and human resource.

“The workforce is extensive and available. Nigeria must diversify its economy and agriculture is a great opportunity for creating employment.

She (Obi) called on government and donor agencies to ensure the 10 per cent Maputo Declaration on budgetary allocation to the agricultural sector is achieved and surpassed in Nigeria as the Buhari-led administration is harping on the agricultural sector to diversify the economy in order to create jobs, generate foreign exchange revenue and industrialize the economy.

“We expect that partners and donors will sustain the momentum through their interventions, project designs and funding while we expect the federal and states government to increase funding to agriculture to meet the 10% Maputo Declaration and concentrate investments in Extension Services, Women in Agriculture, Credit, Labour Saving Technologies, Inputs, Climate Resilient Sustainable Agriculture (CRSA)/Agroecology, Research and Development.

“The federal and states government should also ensure they organise stakeholders consultative meetings on the agriculture budget to get inputs from smallholder women farmers and CSOs to prioritise needs before Calls for Budget Circulars”, she stated

By Gabriel Ewepu