A non-governmental organization known as Participatory Development Alternatives (PDA) has called on Ebonyi women to key into agricultural practices irrespective of their profession.
The Chief Executive Officer of PDA, Mrs. Victoria Ebere Eze, gave the advice to women during a state level consultative meeting with stakeholders which was held at San Diego hotel, Abakaliki, analyzing 2016, 2017, 2018 capital budget and 2019 agriculture budget as it affects agriculture mostly small-scale holders women in Ebonyi state.
According to Mrs Eze, small-scale women farmers should be accommodated during the distribution of agricultural inputs with provision of capacity building in terms of machines, new farming tools, improved seedlings and creating a space for the women to be trained by the state government in other to assist the women to provide for their families and also contribute to Ebonyi GDP.
She added that the essence of the meeting with stakeholders from the state level is to validate the report they sent to the public on what the state government has mapped out for agricultural activities and also to know the provisions made for the small-scale holders' women farmers.
“After analyzing the Budget, we discovered that Ebonyi state agricultural budget did not meet up with the Maputo bench Mark with agriculture while the Maputo declaration says 10 percent, Ebonyi state does not even get 4 percent. As it stands now, after analyzing the budget, it stands around 3 percent. So this meeting is like calling the ministry of finance, budget, and planning, ministry of Agriculture, all the stakeholders that know anything about agriculture to come and tell us the way forward on how we can make Agriculture better.
“Ebonyi state is already known as the Agricultural state, known for the production of rice, and many other things, but when the standard is not the standard, it’s not yet there”.
“There are many areas to improve upon when it comes to agriculture. The first thing i want them to look at is the involvement of small-scale holders women in agriculture, for instance, if there is distribution of any input, the majority of the people that get it are the men.
“We are actually looking up to them to create a space for the women to be trained. Let them provide capacity building for them. Capacity in terms of machinaries, new farming tools, improved seedlings, all those things will contribute. Over 70 per cent of women produce what we eat and if they are empowered very well to go into agriculture, it will go a long way in improving the families and even contribute to the GDP of Ebonyi state.
“We will always support them to facilitate enabling environment for them to access government advocacy, ” she said
Also, the programme manager PDA, Mr John Okocha, commended the government for the good practices they have done. He further urged the state government to allocate more funds on agriculture and also create a specific line for small scale holders and women farmers in the 2019 budget as he called on the government to abide by the matopu declaration to develop agriculture in Ebonyi state.
Okocha further urged the government to grant the request of the women farmers by giving them grants instead of loans to assist their well being noting that they lack capacity and ability to access loans considering the rural areas they come from.
“Our own is to advocate for small women farmers in Ebonyi state, not just for them, but agriculture in general. For instance, in 2017, it was just 3 per cent and in 2018, 2.2 per cent. The percentage dropped by 0.5 per cent which is not commendable, rather we should look up to 10 per cent declaration which will help the agriculture in Ebonyi state .
“Also in the Budget, youths do not have a clear budget line. If the government does this, it will also help them. There are areas the government needs to step up especially in releasing of funds that is approved .
“Government should also print hard copies of the Budget 2016-2018. It is true they are online but it is not enough because it has to be handed over to people who are literates in online business for assessment”.
Source: Tribune Online