Bridging the Gender Gap in Agriculture

by Abimbola Otepola, Corporate Communications Analyst, AFEX

In Nigeria, where women account for 75 percent of the farming population, Dije Sanni, a woman in her late thirties, has already overcome gender bias and prejudices associated with women in agriculture to become the leader of the Nasara Women Association of farmers. But the 6-year old association has still faced the challenge of accessing credit and loans for its members.

“Like in other parts of the world, Women in agriculture face challenges of accessing quality inputs such as fertilizers and loans for their farms. We earn a little reward for our labor compared to our male counterparts. The culture and traditions of the land don’t give us full access to education, land, financial services, and opportunities. And that’s why we started the Nasara Women Association — to address the gender gap.” Dije shares.

Empowering women and girls, everywhere, is key to eliminating gender-based discrimination in the workforce. And this is an ambition that drives AFEX’s project to promote gender inclusion and help women in Agriculture improve the their productivity and the yields of high-value commodities, not only to increase the family income but also to promote self-sufficiency in the fields.

Accessing credit is often a challenge for female smallholder farmers. That’s why AFEX has been active in the Nasara Women Association for 6 years — assisting female farmers to increase productivity through access to fertilizer and loans from a bank or microfinance institutions. This allows women like Dije, to afford inputs like fertilizer to improve their farming. They can deposit their crops and access credit to invest in their farms and generate more income.

“The income of women in my co-operative have doubled, just like our membership number. When other women see the growth of my farm and my income, they instantly want to become a part of what AFEX is building for us.

I remember we started with just 100 women, trying to procure loans from banks. Then AFEX intervened and provided the facility to obtain loans and access fertilizer stock for our farms. Today, we have increased to over 1,200 women. AFEX’s intervention has increased our knowledge on the best practices for farming, doubled our income, and brought more recognition to our business and name.

Although AFEX’s operations in the Nasara women co-operative is ensuring the participation of rural women in the sector, helping them to improve their skills and abilities in farming, Dije calls for more assistance from the public and private sectors.

“When women earn more from farming, we can sufficiently feed our families and send our children to school. By doing this, we would be fighting hunger, poverty, and illiteracy. We need more women empowerment in agriculture. If we are provided with the same loans, fertilizers, and lands as the male farmers, our yields will significantly increase over time.”

Watch out for the next part in our next post.

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