Women farmers under the umbrella of the Small Scale Women Farmers Organization in Nigeria (SWOFON), in a dramatic demonstration, have relinquished their manual hoes to a museum, urging the government to supply them with mechanized farming equipment, which they argue will save them time and energy on the farm.
Leading the women in handing over their hoes to the Cyprian Ekwensi Centre for Art and Culture in Abuja, Mary Afan, the national president of SWOFON, said that the need to mechanize agriculture in Nigeria has become imperative because the number of those depending on Nigerian farmers for food has increased.
Smallholder farmers are the primary producers of food in Nigeria, contributing about 90 percent of the food consumed in the country.
Even still, obtaining mechanized inputs is beyond the reach of most Nigerians farmers due to their considerable expense. Hence, the need has grown for public-private partnerships in one form or another.
Afan called on the government to provide the women with mechanized farm implements, noting that the use of manual hoes on farms is no longer productive and sustainable.
“So, what we have come to do today is to retire these hoes to the museum knowing fully well that this is a place where artefacts are kept so that our children, grandchildren, the generation unborn will come and see it and know that this is what their parents were using to produce food,” she said.
Attending to the women farmers, Agnes Hart, the director of gender at the Social Development Secretariat in Abuja, acknowledged that the association had come a long way and that it is time for the farmers to move forward through the application of technology.
Hart also noted that it is the responsibility of the government to provide an enabling environment, which includes the provision of fertilizer and machines for farmers.