Smallholder Women Farmers Organisation of Nigeria (SWOFON), has urged the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), to expedite action in passing the agricultural statutory budget and allocation of specific funds to farmers.
The measure according to the organisation would ensure food availability for citizens in these hard times.
Mrs Comfort Sunday, SWOFON, FCT Coordinator, made the call at a news conference by the organisation on Friday in Abuja, with support from ActionAid Nigeria.
The conference is tagged: “Persistent delays and untimely appropriation of the FCTA Agriculture Statutory Budget, along with poor budgetary allocation to agriculture, towards achieving 10 per cent Malabo commitment”.
Sunday, who frowned at the abysmal delay in assenting to the budget, said the situation had led to increased food prices in the FCT, while perpetrating a cycle of low productivity, poverty, food insecurity and inequality.
These according to her, directly impacts the wellbeing and development of the rural communities they serve, as well as disrupts the overall agricultural value chain.
She urged the FCTA to prioritise the challenge and take swift action to rectify the problem.
She noted that smallholder women farmers in the country, including the FCT, were facing numerous challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, which exacerbated the difficulties.
The coordinator who identified smallholder women farmers as the drivers of agro labour force, said the current realities posed grave dangers for the FCT food security agenda, as encapsulated in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“In recent years, we have witnessed significant delays in the approval and untimely release of FCTA agriculture statutory budget funds, which significantly impacts on the activities of the farmers.
“SWOFON, in collaboration with ActionAid Nigeria, did community-based Focal Group Discussion across six area councils in the FCT, the scorecard reports conspicuously observed the recurring abysmal delay, which affects agricultural productivity, and all aspects of agricultural value chain.
“This includes lack of access to essential resources, such as improved seeds and seedlings, fertilisers, gender friendly agro and labour-saving technologies, climate resilience, gender-based discrimination among others.
“We call on the attention of stakeholders, including the Federal Government, legislators, private sector, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), among others, to act towards saving the livelihood of smallholder women farmers, and by extension improving food security in FCT, “Sunday said.
She said: “SWOFON is confident that the FCT can be food secured if relevant state actors become deliberate and timely with approval and assent of FCTA agricultural budget ,with specific attention to the needs of smallholder women farmers.”
She called on President Bola Tinubu, all relevant executive state actors, the legislature, FCTA Agriculture and Rural Development and its budget office, as well as other relevant departments and stakeholders, to take bold steps in addressing the challenge.
“As committed citizens of Nigeria and as a group, we remain confident in the capacity and ability of Nigeria and FCT, especially to feed itself and other nations of the world, ” Sunday added.