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Stakeholders call for release of funds to support Gombe women farmers

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Stakeholders call for release of funds to support Gombe women farmers

 

Stakeholders in Gombe state’s agriculture sector have called on the government to release budgeted funds to smallholder women farmers to boost food security.

The stakeholders made the call in Gombe on Wednesday at a one-day Stakeholder Consultative meeting to discuss the state’s 2022 agriculture budget.

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The  meeting, which was part of efforts towards the “Scaling up Public Investment in Agriculture (SUPIA)” programme is a collaborative effort between the Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation of Nigeria
(SWOFON), Hope Foundation for the Lonely (HFL) and ActionAid Nigeria.

Mrs Sarah Yapwa, HFL’s Chief Executive Officer, said at the event that the meeting was to examine the analysis and findings of the budgets of agriculture in Gombe state, particularly for 2020 and identify the gaps that needed to be addressed.

Yapwa stated that stakeholders were not satisfied with the non-release of budgeted funds to smallholder women farmers.

“ I am encouraged because we are seeing the result of advocacy. Before, there was no allocation, but now there is, so we are making progress. Our next step is to follow up to see to the release of the funds.”

She expressed concern that the non-release of the funds and other challenges were affecting smallholder women farmers and this may lead to food crisis.

Yapwa advised women farmers to cultivate crops that require little or no fertiliser application in view of the high cost of the commodity, which often escalates the cost of farming.

Mrs Esther George, the Secretary, SWOFON, Gombe state chapter, in her remark, thanked ActionAid for its intervention to ensure improved funding for agriculture in the state.

George stated that it was imperative for the funds to be released to the women farmers, as they accounted for over 70 per cent of the food produced.

Mrs Airudia Mamman, another SWOFON member participating in the meeting, said the non-release of funds was affecting their members in view of the high cost of inputs, which many be out of reach of the smallholder women farmers.

Mamman stated that the challenges faced by smallholder women farmers, if not addressed, could threaten efforts at boosting food security in Gombe state.

While presenting the analysis of the state’s 2021 budget scorecard, Mr Yahaya Atiku, the acting State chairman, Public Financing for Agriculture, Budget Committee, commended the government for its improved budgetary allocation to the sector.

Atiku said the increase in the allocation to the sector from N1.542 billion in 2020 to N4.057billion in 2021 was commendable and should be sustained so as meet the Maputo Declaration target of 10 per cent allocation to the sector.

He said the percentage of the budget increase was from 1.43 per cent in 2020 to 3.3 per cent in 2021.

The state government should ensure total and timely release of allocated funds for proper implementation, in line with the intention of the budget, he added.

Some of the key points from the communique issued at the end of the meeting include a call to the Gombe state government to ensure the implementation as budgeted in the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry budgetary allocation for smallholder’s women farmers.

“The government should ensure easy access to credit facility at single digit interest rate to be made available to smallholder women farmers across the state.

“The state government should increase the budgetary allocation of the smallholder’s women farmers’ in 2022 to Fifty Million Naira (N50m) and ensure implementation.”

Our correspondent gathered that between 2019 and 2021, over N55million had been allocated as funds to support smallholder women farmers in the state, but no disbursements made in that regard.

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Our correspondent also reports that the one day consultative meeting was attended by participants from Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, State Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, State Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Hope Foundation for the Lonely, SUPIA Budget Committee, CSOs, State House of Assembly (Committees of Agriculture and Appropriation), Members of the Press and Smallholder’s Women Farmers across the state.

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