Agriculture business is often seen as occupation for men but then there are many opportunities there to be tapped by women. Find out.
“After education, I think agriculture is the next big thing to get women out of poverty,” Ndidi Nwuneli , founder Leap Africa and Director of AACE Foods and Sahel Capital Partners said.
This was her assertion when she spoke on the topic, “What is Agriculture Business and Why is it Important’’ at the first Daily Trust Women Summit recently.
Women have been involved in agriculture, whether as subsistent farmers or traders of produce like tomatoes, yam, beans e.t.c.
But then, what bigger opportunities are inherent in the agricultural business that women can explore. Nwuneli says there are a lot of opportunities for women in agriculture but they don’t think about it. “We have to ensure that women are involved in the logistics, ware housing, training and processing of agricultural products. There are opportunities for women to become producers and processors in the whole value chain,” she explains.
She speaks further,“when you talk of dairy and poultry, women control milk and that’s power. If you control the milk, then you can sell. We are doing a whole project on dairy and there are real opportunities there. There is also a real opportunity for women in poultry. Now in the north, women control the eggs but they don’t have access to market, it is untapped. Who is processing in Nigeria, nobody. Nigeria is sitting on a goldmine when it comes to agriculture,” she said emphatically.
Nigeria is the number one producer of cassava, cowpea, yam, sweet potatoes, cashew, okro amongst other items. Despite all these opportunities in agriculture we are operating way below our potentials and this affects women and affects homes.
Hajiya Yasmin Othman, National President, African Women AgriBusiness Network and Women in Shea Butter,says women in agriculture should grow beyond the subsistent level. “The hard truth is that many women want to operate on the micro level, we have to think of agriculture in a larger scale,”Othman said.
One of the reasons women are operating at the micro level is not far-fetched-inability to access finance. Nwuneli said women only access one per cent of finance in agriculture. To get more women involved in the business of agriculture, she highlighted some basic things that should be in place.
“We have to address the issue of land reform. Women who have land should write a Will and give some land to their daughters. Also, we need to collect more data to make cases for women in agriculture. Again, we need financing system,” Nwuneli said.
She continues, “We need women in the supply chain. An average farmer in the village sells a kg of tomatoes at N4. When it gets to Abuja, it’s N250 per kg. Who makes the money in-between? Middlemen. Why not middle women? Women need to move from being only farmers at the beginning or traders at the end. Women must be involved in the whole value chain in agriculture business,” she emphasised.