Women farmers in Enugu State have been urged to embrace the concept of forming cooperative societies as a measure to build themselves up into a more formidable group in order to access loan facilities for their farm businesses.
This recommendation was outlined during the Town Hall Meeting, which held recently at the Cooperative College Hall, Enugu with a huge turn-out of key state-stakeholders in the agricultural sector.
Enugu State has been identified as having more women farmers than men. These women who are mostly subsistence farmers have been limited from engaging in mechanized farming due to lack of funds.
Pledging the support of his organization, the GEMS4 Intervention Manager – Richard Ogundele, stated that lots of opportunities abound for women farmers in tomato cultivation; especially with the on-going scourge in the northern part of the country by Tuta Absoluta -tomato disease.
Addressing the stakeholders present, Barr. Richard-Mark Mbaram who doubles as the convener of the meeting and the Editor-in-Chief AgroNigeria, emphasized the need for the implementation of the Maputo Declaration by the Federal Government, which stipulates that 10 per cent of the total yearly budget must go into agriculture.
According to Mbaram, the declaration has since been existing in papers; insisting that the declaration must be implemented by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
Mbaram urged the media practitioners to ensure through their reportage, that the Federal Government does not ‘throw away the baby with the bathwater” through policy reversal, while recommending that the Buhari-led government should piggybank on the enviable legacy laid down by the immediate past Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and the President-Elect, African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina.
In his own remarks, the Deputy Director of Cooperatives Enugu State and Principal, Enugu State Cooperative College, Mr. Festus Ezenwa urged the farmers present to key into the power of the cooperative society, insisting that by coming together, they can easily achieve as a group what they cannot achieve as individuals.
Encouraging the women to be more active in their various cooperative societies, Ezenwa attributed their inability to access loans as a result of their indifferent attitude towards cooperative activities. “These groups start with nothing. We call some of these cooperative groups programme cooperatives; and that is why they don’t have enough working capital. The government would stand up one day and come up with one programme like Fadama and say go and form cooperatives you get this you get that, and they will surge into our offices,” Ezenwa said.
Furthermore, he blamed the government for the discrepancies within the cooperative societies, commenting that the politicians insist on the certification of these groups without proper grooming to ensure their capacity to function overtime.