By Imali Ngusale
Nigeria’s former president Olusegun Obasanjo has said in Addis Ababa that women remain the backbone of Agriculture but are disadvantaged because of barriers that impede access to resources needed to revolitoinise their input.
Speaking at a high-level breakfast meeting on the margin of the 36th Summit of the African Union on Empowering Women in Agriculture (EWA), Obasanjo challenged governments in Africa to promote gender equality in agriculture to reap the benefit brought about by the massive involvement of women in the sector.
He said that he was proud to be associated with Empowering Women in Agriculture (EWA) and hopes that African women continue to thrive.
Obasanjo also emphasized that “African women have salvaged the situation in Agriculture in Africa,” and was lauded for his unwavering support for gender support in agriculture. He was also referred to as the “Baba,” of Empowering Women in Agriculture (EWA of Swahili for “Father” of Empowering Women in Agriculture (EWA)
Speaking in the same summit, Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, the AU Commissioner for Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable development said, “It’s a shame 43 million Ukrainians feed 1.4 billion Africans,”
In her remarks, she stated that Africa needs to stop depending on foreigners for survival because the continent has the capacity to produce its own food.
Her Excellency, Dr. Joyce Banda the former President of Malawi also addressed the meeting.
“We have talked enough,” stated H.E Joyce Banda,” It is a fact that women are producing agricultural products but middlemen are gaining from their efforts,”
“For how long will women continue to produce and then eat the last and the least?” asked Banda.
Reflective of the fact that women comprise of 60% of the smallholder farmer, Banda noted that women lack support and change should be implemented in the agricultural sector
“We, African women plant, we mature, we harvest, we store, we cook, but then our efforts are served `by the middlemen!” lauded Banda
“Being poor doesn’t mean that we should be foolish… we have lost 22 years, and we need to fast track the progress,” said Banda and finalized by saying, “ I am available and you can depend on me,”
The President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Her Excellency Sahle-Work Zewde was also present and she stated that there was a huge gap for women in agriculture. They said that accessing finance has been a challenge, and there is a need to de-risk the gender biases in agriculture.
“We need to create an eco-system that constitutes of the civil society and government agencies,” said President Zewde, “Otherwise we will be having peace meals with no impact,”
“To have measurable results in agriculture is extremely important,” said President Zewde, “We have a big task to ensure that food security becomes a reality in Africa,”
“Women need to be empowered to catch up with the growing demands of agriculture,” added President Zwede, “We do not have time to lose and we need to take women out of the vicious cycle of being taken advantage of,”
The meeting was held at the height of unprecedented times that require the African Union to change tact in order to ascertain food security.
The African Women’s Development and Communications Network (FEMNET) in partnership with GIMAC was at the heart of the high-level discussions and the need for equality in Africa’s agricultural sector was the main agenda.