ALONG THE VALUE CHAIN – THE ROLE OF WOMEN

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Every women is a star says a Maggi advert. But every woman is a champion in the agricultural sector.
The issue of food security lies strongly in the chain of sustainable production of food and women plays a significant role in attaining the much concerned food security. Let me explain some of the several aspect of the value chain in which women’s involvement is critical.
a. Farm and Field Activities:Counting in figures revealed that millions of women work on the farm as farmers and farmer workers. Regardless of gender disparity, majority of women own their own farm land while few of them work as hired labor and family labor for their husband and relatives. The range of activities women performed on the farm as farmers include production of food crops and cash crops such as vegetables, maize, yam, rice, cowpea, millet, palm oil, cassava etc.; family labor and hired labor to clear and weed farm land, separate stalk, harvest produce and transport to the produce to the market or ban using their carrier basket and bicycle.
b. Processing Unit: Another area where women constitute a powerful force is the processing unit. Harder will one pick a processing unit in the agricultural sector without the dominance of women. Taking a lead from rice processing, cowpea processing, millet processing, cassava processing and palm oil processing, women are major players in this chain. On two different occasion, I had visited the palm oil processing unit in Ijebu-ode and Iju-Itaogbolu in Ondo state where women remove the palm oil fresh fruit, boiled and filter until it is ready for sales. These observation reveals how women took their time to process agriculture produce of their choice. Good example of processing examples also include:
• Cassava processing and utilization- pancake, flour and odorless fufu
• Processing and storage of maize garri, cassava flour, tapioca, maize flour, malted maize drink, corn meal, pap (wet and malted maize flour).
• Processing and utilization of soybean into soymilk, flour paste and soy meal
• Processing and storage of fresh tomatoes into tomato paste.
• Rabbit meat processing and utilization
• Processing and storage of melon
• Cocoyam processing and utilization into cocoyam flour for soup thickening and cocoyam chips etc.
c. Marketing and Trading Unit: Women are good seller as well as good buyer. Backed in the village where women aggregators will walk through the farm to buy-off the harvested cassava and yam produce to sell off to the larger market. Studies have revealed the long reign of women in the marketing aspect of the value chain with their tentacle wide spread to retailing and wholesales of agricultural produce. Having visited some notable markets with special attachment to Mile 12 market and Idi-oro markets in Lagos state, it is no doubt that bulk of women are exploring the potentials in the agricultural sector.
d. Research and Extension Field: Quite a number of women has arouse for the needed transformation in the agricultural sector. Not only do they see themselves as champions but also as change agent who can represent women interest in the agricultural sector and in decision making process as well as policy formulation. NIWARD, AWARD to mention few, of those representing women’s interest in the agricultural sector.
e. Champion in Utilization: Women are of course champions in pricing of agricultural commodities and its utilization. It is often said in pidgin language that “soup wey sweet, nah money kill am”meaning every sweet and delicious meal is a function of money but I want to believe that there a person behind the preparation that actually brought out the aroma. After engaging in production, marketing, processing, women still end up cooking meals for the children and husband. “They (women) play vital roles in the maintenance of our families, investing as much as 90 per cent of their income in the families compared to 35 per cent for men,’’. Indeed, every women deserve applaud for their tireless effort.
Although, women’s role in agriculture cannot be capture at once in a blog post but NIWARD continuous activities explains it more. Hence, there is need for government and other stakeholders to extent their arm of agricultural transformation to women, especially those in the rural area.
This blog post is written to mark a year remembrance of my beloved mother who passed away on Wednesday, 29th April 2015 but spent her last breathe to send my brothers and I to the university with her hard earn income from both agricultural and non-agricultural related work.
Photo Credit:Seun James TaiwoPhotograhy

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Agrindus: Erasing Assumptions and Lifting Potentials

Fao pic

Back in 2015
As an undergraduate, my practical involvement in agriculture has taught me thatagricultural practice goes beyond the four walls of the classroom.
Combining both the practical experience and theoretical learning is essential to conceive of practical ways to support agriculture. My initiative, called AgrindusNetwork, started in 2015. It is a paradigm shift from the usual- journal publications, articles, books and so on, for the smallholder farmers and youth who are into agriculture and those who desire to venture into agriculture. The initiative involvesa team of innovative young professionals in the field of agricultureworking with smallholder farmers in the South West (Ondo and Ekiti States). Activities undertaken include assessment of current and prospective capacities of farmers; discussion of trends in agriculture including the benefits of adopting best practices to boost their production and enhance their livelihood and lots of ground to be cover in the rural sphere and ultimately, in the agricultural sector
The Agrindus Principles
AgrindusNetwork is all about describing agriculture within the rings of rural farmers/communities and youth involvement in agriculture and agribusinesses. Agriculture has grown from being a mere practice to a business oriented approach. In his statement in 2010, Vaarstsays; a focus on agriculture is generally believed to be a panacea for sustainable development of any nation. Stressing on this fact, farmers in my own description are the backbone of any nation with no exception of Nigeria farmers. Just imagine a farmer cultivating 3-4 different crops (yam, cassava, maize and leafy vegetables) on one hectare of land every planting session and feeding his family member and selling the remnants to earn income as a supplement of his effort. This really depict the potential of farmers in using agriculture as a development tool.
The second principle is deeply rooted in Dr AkinwumiAdesina statement that“saga of increased youth unemployment is particularly traceable to the neglect of agriculture and the mono – cultural dependence on oil. To solve this issue, a solid attention is given to youth to take up the baton of agriculture from our old age people but much is said but little is implemented with less than 5% of the youth venturing into agriculture and agribusinesses. Although, several reasons influencing this include migration of youth (this account for 60%), disincentive to agriculture, orientation of youth to agriculture as dirty, non-profitable ventures etc.
Continuity of the work started
AgrindusNetwork is determine to continue transform the rural agricultural sector from just mere old age engaging in agriculture to what is called an exposure of young people to agriculture as a lucrative business and to flaunt the potentials of these old farmer’s practices to prove what they can do without the improve varieties of seeds, latest technology and improve breeds of livestock and also, what exploit they will perform if they have sufficient funding and the needed infrastructural facilities such as improved varieties, new intervention approaches that is grass-rooted, good road network, good market, new technology and good extension system.
To aid our work and make the voice of farmers count, we have our faces on Facebook, twitter and Instagram.
Photo Credit: FAO