Dr Ousmane Dore, the Nigeria Country Director, African Development Bank (AfDB), said Nigerian women contribute close to 70 per cent of agricultural workforce but get less of accruing returns.

Dore made this known in Abuja at the launch of African Women in Agriculture Report titled, “Economic empowerment of African women through equitable participation in agricultural value chains.”

According to him, the report is aim at contributing to the economic empowerment of African women in agriculture through identification and proffering of possible solutions to hindrances to women’s active participation in agricultural value chains.

“In Nigeria, women contribute close to 70 per cent of agricultural workforce but yet get far less of the accruing returns.

“In spite of their (women) huge labour investment, productivity is low and they often have limited roles in decision making on the farms.
“Lack of ownership of land and other productive assets due to existing social norms has create a significant negative impact on the family income and the nation’s GDP at large,’’ Dore said.

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He said that the bank recognised crucial role of women in economic growth and sustainability in Africa.

Dore said that the bank’s ten year strategies (2012-2022) had placed high emphasis on gender equality and mainstreaming as a prerequisite for African economic transformation.

He said that the report launched had examined how AfDB and partners could sustainably and proactively support African women by developing unique tailor-made projects for women-led and women dominated business entities in agriculture.

Dore said that the entities include support for trade, investment and integration of African women in agriculture value chains.

“In Nigeria, women make up to 50 per cent of the total national population and so, any meaningful development must take them into reckoning and fully integrated into the equation,’’ he added.

The Special Envoy on Gender, Mrs Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, in her remark said that agriculture was a critical sector in the continent, accounting for 60 per cent of employment.

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Fraser said that women presence in agricultural labour force was significant at 50 per cent, and therefore, there was no better overlapping opportunity to support women’s economic empowerment and strengthen a critical sector on the continent.

“We (bank) need to grow agribusiness entrepreneurs (commercial farms, processing, export) by creating niche products within the four sectors we (bank) have prioritised cocoa, cotton, cassava and coffee.

“To make these a reality, five interventions are required – training, increasing access to inputs, financing, enhancing market links and expanding co-operative programmes like establishing women-only co-operatives and among others.

“I believe that being ambitious about how we implement the interventions identified in the report could change the face of agriculture in Africa and empower millions of women,’’ Fraser-Moleketi said.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Sunny Echono, said that women are the cornerstone of agricultural production, processing, marketing and utilisation in the country.

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The Permanent Secretary was represented by the Deputy Director, Extension, in the ministry, Mr Dele Onorunfemi.

Echono said that Nigeria agriculture could never achieve any meaningful development without mainstreaming concern into the nation’s policy and programme and by making gender equality a cardinal developmental principle.

“Women supply 70 per cent of agricultural labour, 50 per cent of animal husbandry-related activities and 60 per cent of food processing, yet they have access to only 20 per cent of available agricultural resources.

“Despite these challenges, women are the cornerstone of agricultural production, processing, marketing and utilisation.

“Women also play vital roles in the maintenance of our families, investing as much as 90 per cent of their income in the families compared to 35 per cent for men,’’ Echono said.