Article de presse
Breaking Ground: Empowering Women for Sustainable Agriculture in Kano
Across Sub-Saharan Africa, agriculture is the predominant sector shaping the economies of most nations. It significantly contributes to these countries’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and is a primary source of employment for over two-thirds of the population across the continent. A country’s economic, environmental, and social prosperity is intricately intertwined with the vitality of its agricultural sector. Increasing agricultural investments can yield substantial developmental benefits, including the augmentation of rural incomes, food security enhancement, affordable and nutritionally rich food to Africa’s bustling population, and safeguarding the environment through innovations like climate-smart agriculture.
In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, agriculture is both an economic driver and a way of life for the country’s citizens. According to the Nigerian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the sector contributes 23 percent of the GDP, and over 70 percent of Nigerians engage in agriculture, mainly at a subsistence level. However, Nigeria’s agricultural sector grapples with several setbacks, including recurrent flooding and desertification of arable land. These challenges extend to the food processing industry, which faces challenges due to insufficient financing and inadequate infrastructure. Consequently, these factors have exacerbated food inflation, which rose to 23.75 percent in December 2022.
Addressing these challenges is critical for the sustainable development of agriculture in Kano State. Through the Investing in Women in Nigeria (IIW-Nigeria) programme, a five-year initiative with the Canadian Government through Global Affairs Canada, AECF (Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund) is seeking to economically empower women working in the agriculture sector in Kano to address the barriers that prevent them from fully contributing in key agricultural value chains. At the heart of IIW-Nigeria is the ambition to economically uplift women by enhancing their climate resilience and transforming their livelihoods.
Like many other regions in Nigeria, Kano’s agricultural sector faces numerous challenges, including limited access to credit for farmers. Women constitute a substantial portion of the agricultural workforce in Kano State. They are the unsung heroes who toil tirelessly in the fields, planting, nurturing, and harvesting crops that feed communities and the State. However, despite their role in this sector, they often encounter obstacles that hinder their full participation and contribution.
Speaking during the programme launch on October 10, 2023, at the Declaration Hall in Kano, Victoria Sabula, CEO of AECF, reiterated that investing in women is investing in people who invest in everyone else. Ms. Sabula noted that IIW-Nigeria seeks gender-transformative opportunities for Kano’s women in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and women cooperatives. She said about the funding model, “The programme will give capital to businesses in the form of performance-based grants, which means specific milestones have to be achieved to unlock financing in bits.”
Ms. Djifa Ahado, Head of Cooperation of the High Commission of Canada to Nigeria, said the programme would focus on the most vulnerable, including youth, women, and those living in fragile contexts. Ms. Ahado assured that IIW-Nigeria is not only an investment in Kano State but the entire country by extension, stressing the need for more women’s engagement in the different agricultural value chains supported by the programme.
The Kano State Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf, represented by his Chief of Staff, Alhaji Shehu Wada Sagagi, expressed his gratitude to AECF and the Canadian Government for selecting Kano as the inaugural location to launch the programme out of Nigeria’s 36 states. He further stated that empowering women in agriculture would significantly enhance the State’s economic landscape, as it was already a prominent center of commerce. Governor Yusuf reaffirmed that the State would collaborate with the National Ministry of Agriculture to ensure the programme’s success at the state and national levels. He also conveyed his administration’s eagerness to partner with AECF to achieve the desired goals.
The Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, through his representative, Sarkin Shanu, Alhaji Shehu Muhammad, emphasized the significance of investing in women, stating that such efforts would significantly contribute to empowering the society and the nation as a whole. He underscored that empowering women in agriculture requires a multi-faceted approach involving government agencies, non-governmental organizations, community leaders, and other stakeholders. The Emir stated that empowering women in agriculture in Kano State is not just a matter of gender equality; it’s a strategic imperative for food security, economic growth, and sustainable development. “When we empower women in agriculture, we empower families, communities, and the entire nation. It’s time for us to unite as individuals, communities, and governments to ensure women have the tools, resources, and opportunities they need to thrive in agriculture,” he noted.
Recognizing that financial support alone is insufficient, IIW-Nigeria will also offer customized technical assistance on gender equality, human rights advocacy, business and management skills, and climate-smart agriculture, creating a holistic ecosystem for sustainable growth.
IIW-Nigeria symbolizes AECF’s commitment to a more inclusive and resilient agricultural sector. By investing in the women of Kano State and harnessing their potential, we are catalyzing economic change and sowing the seeds for a more sustainable and equitable future.
Learn more about the programme and application details via the link below https://www.aecfafrica.org/approach/our-programmes/agribusiness/investing-in-women-in-nigeria/