How climate change affects productivity of women farmers
‘If you teach a man to farm, his family will eat. If you teach a woman to farm, the community will eat.’
The above assertion underscores the significant role women play in the agricultural development of any country.
In Nigeria, women constitutes 70 percent of the workforce in the agricultural sector with vast majority of them found in rural areas engaged in crop and animal farming as well as crop processing.
Victoria Alade has been into rice, yam, corn etc farming for over 30 years. That is her only occupation and source of income.
While Asibi Omame says she ventured into cassava farming because of the high demand of cassava for garri, fufu and other cassava products.
Despite the fact that these women have benefited from farming, climate change events in recent times have tended to threaten their source of livelihood.
According Victoria Alade, twenty years back, there was nothing like climate change all you needed were to farm, weed and harvest your crops after maturity but now the case is different as climate change has affected time of planting, quality and amount of yields.
She maintains that before the current development, rainfall was usually began around March and stopped around November but that nowadays rainfall begins around end of May and ends October thereby contributing to insufficient amount of water for crops to germinate well.
“Years back when harvesting yam, I had to call for more people to help me harvest because the yam tubers were so big but now, I can’t get good tubers due to climate change,” she says, noting further that insufficient rainfall this year has affected quality and quantity of yields of vegetables like okro, hibiscus and cassava.
Another farmer, Rebecca Ishaku, says flooding which is exercerbated by climate is also among the challenges women face while farming.
“Last year, I cultivated rice in Awe Local Government Area but flood washed away all the rice. I lost all my capital invested and because of that I am unable to farm rice this year,” she laments.
The women called for more enlightenment and adequate information on climate change and friendly practices in agriculture to reduce loss.
Corroborating the above, an Environment and Climate Change Officer at International Funds for Agricultural Development – Value Chain Development Programme (IFAD-VCDP), Joseph Monday, climate change events such as early cessation of rainfall, frequent dry span, drought and infestations of pests affect productivity and income of women farmers especially smallholder farmers.
According to him, “climate change has forced women farmers to reduce number of hectares they cultivate because of poor harvest and loss of capital.”
Asibi Omame and Victoria Alade decried insufficient capital and exorbitant prices of agro-chemicals as other challenges women farmers are face in Nasarawa State.
The IFAD-VCDP officer said the organization has been providing marching grants in form of farm inputs, fertilizer and processing machines also on marching bases to help women cope with the ravaging effects of climate change on agricultural activities.
He equally advised women farmers to embrace irrigation farming and use short maturing variation such as faro 45 rice seedlings that mature between 90-100 days and tearing 4-19 cassava that matures between 8 to 12 months unlike the variation that stays for two years.
Grace Amirikpa writes from Lafia