Madam Helen Kelo, 47, maize, pepper, guinea corn and accha or white phonio farmer in Billiri, said women and children mostly go to farms, adding: “It is very difficult to see men going to farm in this area except the women and children.“That is why you discover that our women are very hard working because they take care of the house. After producing what we eat in the year, I will also make sure I produce enough to sell, pay school fess and buy other things. I always go to farm with my children if they are on holidays.”Asked if she is into mechanised farming, Helen laughed, hanged her implement (hoe) on the shoulder and said: “Who will give monkey banana? I am not aware of any female farmer in this area that has a tractor or access to it. I do all the farming in my farm manually.“This is just one of my four farms. I have three other farms like this. I registered with GES and I am getting two bags of fertiliser at subsidised rate. Sometimes Gombe State Government will also assist us with subsidised fertilizer. Otherwise, we go to the market and buy.”In Kaltungo, the situation is not different as Madam Hadiza Musa said there is nothing put in place by government to assist female farmers in the area.She said: “Most of the female farmers in this area are housewives who have no other means of livelihood. Unlike our male counterparts who engage in other trades, we are housewives with no other source of generating money.“Even where fertiliser and other inputs are available for farmers to buy, you will realise that the men are the ones that have money to buy all. We really need a lot of support to enhance our farming activities. In addition to access to finance, we require tractors for mechanised farming, inputs, improved seeds and enabling environment for us to embark on irrigation farming.”At Balanga, the situation is pathetic as farmers, mainly women, would have to farm on rocks due to scarcity of farmlands and because of the rocky nature of the area.Farmers have to clear several stones to provide space to plant their crops. Hajara Solomon is one of the hill top farmers in the area who cultivate guinea corn.She said: “You can see that there are stones everywhere here. Whenever we want to plant, we have to pack the stones we can be able to gather to create space to plant. In most cases, we even crack some of the stones buried in sand to be able to plant. It is not an easy task. That is the nature of this place.”Hajara said though the hill where her farm is situated is at the foot of Balanga Dam, her farm could not be able to access the water from the dam because. “My farm is on top of the hill and you cannot easily get a powerful water pumping machine that can pump water to the hill top,” she said.“Some fortunate farmers have their farms down there at the foot of the hill. Those of us that could not have farmlands there have to climb the hill to be able to have a space to farm. We rearrange the stones after every farming season to be able to farm again.”Beyond the issue of lack of assistance to female farmers in the state which most female farmers lamented, Hajiya Amina Muhammad Kawai, a teacher at the Government Vocational Training Centre, Hinna, advised female farmers in the state to form associations to qualify for government’s assistance.
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