There are several challenges combating the Nigeria agricultural sector ranging from climate change, inadequate facilities necessary for efficient production, lack of access to credit facilities, labour shortages amongst others. These challenges are reducing efforts towards food security achievement. However they are not limited to the above. Babatunde Olarewaju, an agricultural extension expert at FutuX Agri-consult Limited, in his weekly letter to farmers identified another crucial challenge.
It has been observed that food production has been on the decline over the years due to several challenges facing smallholder farmers, especially in Africa. Some of the issues contributing to this decline are linked to climate change, poor adoption of technology or mechanization, insufficient access to financial services and products amongst others. Many studies have highlighted the recommendations to improve the situation, however, it seems little or no change has been achieved so far. Sadly, all these issues are mere symptoms but the root cause is yet to be fully addressed- Gender inequality.
In most African Nations, women are yet to be recognized as a major stakeholder in the agricultural sector, contributing immensely to the growth in the agricultural sector within the continent. However, unequal access to opportunities have impeded the growth as productivity has declined over the years.
Therefore, the solution lies in mainstreaming gender in intervention programs. This involves bringing women and men together, identifying the peculiar needs, development of strategies to proffer solutions to respective needs and ensuring collaboration among them to achieve desired goal. It is very important to know that men and women have common enemies; poverty, malnutrition and hunger. And these enemies do not recognize gender. Therefore, we need to WORK together, identifying our respective strengths and employing them to ensure that we win together.
We should work together, with fairness, where women have equal access to land, quality inputs, resources (access and control) and market opportunities within and outside the locality.
In conclusion, it is a very long journey and EVERYONE needs to be involved and understand that gender inequality has adverse effects on everyone’s livelihood. Therefore, we must ensure that the needed supports are provided to empower women and integrate gender into programs, interventions at the various levels, therefore, this would be the game changer that will transform the agricultural sector and have a great impact on food production, ensuring achieving food security especially for the increasing population.