Women are virtually participating in every aspect of agriculture, irrespective of the angle one looks at it from.
In most rural areas in Nigeria, women are more into farming despite their family responsibilities.
They are consistently helping to provide the home with food and other forms of support.
The smallholder farmers produce 98 percent of the food consumed in Nigeria and women farmers occupy 50 – 60 percent of the statistic. In Nigeria, smallholder women farmers play crucial role in all aspects of agriculture.
They’re actively involved in the process of producing food from farms and serving it on the table at home.
They also participate in weeding, planting, rearing livestock, harvesting, marketing, and processing of farm produce.
Their commitment to agriculture is impressive. Even while trying to fend for themselves they are actively involved to ensure there is food availability.
Smallholder women farmers play crucial role during planting season, nursing, and keeping seed banks.
They are catalysts in food processing, production, and distribution in the community and to the cities.
They are however marginalized in the area of access to financial support and special palliative but they are key in bridging the gap in the production of veggies and garden crops.
They outnumber men during post-harvest and collection of farm produce. Mostly, women in the rural communities are very committed to managing their own small farmland – either bought or inherited through their husbands.
Smallholder women farmers are the backbone in the development of farm production especially in rural areas. In most rural communities, despite the limited information available to them, the women farmers are more coordinated in clusters and well organized in carrying out their farm businesses.
They increase the financial value of farm production and indirectly affect the national GDP through agriculture. Despite all their efforts and commitment to the development of the agricultural sector in Nigeria by government, private, and some international bodies, the result has not been as expected.
Majority of the problems differently faced by the smallholder farmers especially women in Nigeria, include; embezzlement of funds, gender inequality, political, and financial constraints.
For Nigeria to record more improvement in her agriculture, government at all levels must see to the solution of smallholder women farmers’ problems; there should be policies that favour women farmers and their inclusion in accessing financial aid and small grants; access to information and education in new farming practice, access to land and farm inputs and transparency among the stakeholders in the agriculture sector.
Smallholder women farmers are contributors to the Nigerian agricultural sector and their role in ensuring alleviation of hunger and food availability calls for government and the non-governmental organizations intensive support in order to motivate their commitment in agriculture production and in addressing food insecurity.
Godwin Adinoyi Jimoh writes from Abuja