The International Women’s Day, celebrated every March 8 and throughout the Month of March was marked with an array of events. A key event for 2016 was our IWD Forum in Asaba, Delta State themed ‘’Pledge for Parity: Support women in Agriculture in the Niger Delta.” The event drew participants from academia, the private sector, financial institution, stakeholders in agriculture, partners of PIND, policy makers and influencers, as well as the women involved in agriculture in the Niger Delta.
PIND’s 2016 target of supporting women in agriculture in the Niger Delta is strikingly significant because it aimed to place women in the frontlines of the revival of agriculture in the country. Women who attended the event have been inspired to do just this.
”The USAID-PIND MARKETS 2 project sponsored me and four other women farmers from Cross River State to attend the International Women’s Day Forum in March 2016 in Asaba. The discussions and experiences at the forum were very encouraging. During discussion on access to credit at the forum, we were advised to not only seek credit but to also look for modest opportunities and start something. We were told not to wait for big money but to use whatever we have to expand our income and farming business. People shared their experiences of how they started and kept growing. I had a small fish farm which I use for ‘point and kill’. It is a small fish farm of about 1000 fish. When we came back from the Forum, we went to one or two banks as we were advised, it was a bit difficult. We went to the Bank of Agriculture where we were told to open account. We opened the accounts. They have not answered us. But based on the encouragement that we should start something and not wait, I looked for money in other places and I expanded my fish farm that same month. I added ponds and added 5,000 fish. I am hoping to harvest in September when the fish will be six month and when we will have a festival in our community. The demand will be very high because of the festival. The workshop was very helpful to me and useful. It gave me the zeal to expand. We learnt that women should use any idea they have. You must not wait for anyone. Before we were waiting for big money, but with that advice I took action and is giving me result. I will not tell you lie, I am very happy that I attended the Forum”
Mrs Agatha Morphy, Ishibori Community, Ogoja, Cross River State
‘’One key takeaway for Working Fingers Initiative International (WOFII) from the International Women’s Day Forum in Asaba is that women can earn decent living from farming activities and women can engage in big time farming. With this realization, after the Forum, WOFII leadership decided to rent ponds at Ugboroke Fish Farm and Area 74 Fish Farms…some personal homes will be used too. It was also agreed there and then to rent a 15 acre land at the Abraka Reserve Farm Land. We have done these. The fifteen acre we leased at Abraka, WOFI has only been able to plant six acres with all our resources pulled together. We have bought a bike to reduce cost of moving helpers to farm. The society has opened account with Bank of Agriculture at Asaba and Ughelli, though we have not received any loan from them yet. During the inspection of our farms, because of our partnership with PIND to organize the IWD Forum, we were well treated and recognized by the Delta State Ministry of Agriculture’’
“One major take-away from Asaba is that I can motivate women as individuals or groups to move their agricultural practices from subsistence to main enterprise farming. So after the forum, I started that by making contacts with professionals from Songhai Farms, from Nigeria Stored Products Research Institute for packaging, Nigerian Export Promotions Council with information on how we can promote women in Agriculture. I brought in Nigerian Employers Consultative Association (NECA)’s Network of Entrepreneurial Women to collaborate with my organization, the Centre for Creative Development Strategies (CCDS). We visited Indorama Eleme Fertilizer Company to seek further opportunities for women in Agriculture and allied businesses. CCDS is currently carrying out a research in partnership with experts from Songhai Rivers to construct indigenous and less expensive greenhouse model for valuable vegetable cropping such as tomatoes and cucumber”
Nancy Iheduru, Executive Director, Center for Creative Development Strategies (CCDS)
‘’On return from the IWD Forum in Asaba, MANKIND immediately carried out some activities. We carried out an excursion visit to Nigeria Stored Products Research Institute for interactive session on food processing and storage facility. We held an enlightenment session on agricultural benefits and farming to Amaibigose Cooperative Women Association of Ogoloma in Okrika LGA. We conducted a demonstration of basket farming in my residence – a trial run is on-going in my residence so I can transfer skills to the women in Okrika since they are not keen on farming activities due to scarcity of land and polluted waters. We did sensitization of parents and caregivers to consider homestead gardening where space is available on our SIDHAS project for Orphans and Vulnerable Children’’
“As we returned to our State from the International Women’s Day Forum in Asaba, we gathered our women together, and we stepped down the forum, fifty women per local government for the 18 local governments in Ondo State. We shared the message, we encouraged them. They have really improved. People who planted one hectare before have increased their farmland. Those going to market that stopped have resumed again’’
Mrs. Biola Akindipe Akure, Vice President, All Women Farmers Association, Ondo State
These outcomes from the IWD event effectively buttresses PIND’s resolve to foster an “egalitarian and peaceful society that guarantees equal rights and equitable access to and control of productive resources; ensuring that individuals are empowered to create wealth and overcome poverty and disease irrespective of sex and other demographic differentials’’