By Oludele Taiwo
A lecturer in the Department of Agricultural Extension and Rural Development, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State, Prof. Olanike Deji has affirmed that women should be given significant attention and empowered to engage in farming in order to achieve food security in the country. She made this known in her presentation titled; “Role of Institutions towards Achieving the SDG of Food Security” at a workshop sponsored by the Commonwealth of Learning, in conjunction with OAU and Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI), Ilorin, Kwara State for rural farmers with the theme: “Scaling-up Lifelong Learning for Farmers (L3F) in Nigeria”.
The Professor said the three major workforce in agriculture that must be important target of every programme are: small scale family farmers, community rural women farmers, and the youths. She disclosed that “These three workforce are germane to achieving food security; they are major force in agriculture and agriculture value chain; they are the ones that take farm produce from level of production to the table of consumers. They are the majority of actors, but unfortunately, women are at the disadvantages end when it comes to access to resources, capacity building, recognition of their efforts, women are usually looked down upon”, she added.
The don urged the government to work towards achieving food security because agriculture in Nigeria is still at the subsistence level with majority of the workforce at the small scale level where they cultivate crops for family purposes. Meanwhile, the Executive Director of ARMTI, Dr. Olufemi Oladunni, while delivering his lecture on “Gender-responsive Strategies for Attainment of SDGs”, said that discrimination among the genders, especially women farmers, should be avoided. Oladunni, who was represented by a faculty member, Dr. Adeola Aremu, suggested that the same opportunity be given to both genders so as to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He further advocated for women involvement in the decision-making in gender-responsive strategies for the attainment of SDGs. Also, the Head of Department of Agricultural Economics of OAU, Prof. Adebayo Akinola, said the programme was organised to bring together farmers, learning institutions and banks to facilitate learning for development in the rural area. He said the workshop would empower vulnerable farmers and their families on skills development, increased productivity, food security and educating agricultural communities on socio-economic constraints while a former Head, Department of Agricultural Economics, Faculty of Agriculture, OAU, Prof. Adeolu Ayanwale has advised youths in the country to promote agriculture through technology.
The HoD said learning is a continuous exercise and this would assist them master the environment they are operating in, stressing that many of the youths are out-of-school, dwelling in urban areas, mostly unemployed, but not interested in farming despite a lot of potentials in the farm. “There are a lot of potentials in using lifelong farming for farmers to ensure their inclusiveness. Youths and women can be included in agricultural programme of the government. We can also improve their productivity, output per unit area, such that at the end of the day, the main aim of sustainability development goals will be achieved,” he said.