At WIMBIZ special lunch, El-Rufai lauds women’s contributions to the economy
In spite of their limited political power in Nigeria, Nigerian women have contributed to the growth of the Nigerian economy, especially in the agricultural sector.
This was part of the submission made by the governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, in his keynote address at the Special Edition Abuja Roundtable of Women in Business (WIMBIZ) in Abuja.
“The reason we are here, is because of the determination of Nigerian women to continue to search for pathways to succeed and thrive, regardless of challenges posed by the economy,” El-Rufai said.
The said he believed a strategic return to agriculture would help spur growth of the economy that is currently in downward slide. “The agricultural value chain is awaiting a burst of entrepreneurial energy,” he said. “Going back to agriculture is not about just growing more maize, rice, soyabeans, tomatoes or ginger.
“It is about the value-addition that accompanies higher yields, the income that accrues to farmers and the nexus between rural agriculture and urban industry.”
He expressed his belief in the capacity of the Nigerian women to strengthen agricultural value chain since they constitute larger percentage of the workforce in the sector.
He said, “The African Development Bank recognizes that Nigerian women contribute close to 70 per cent of agricultural workforce yet get less of accruing returns.
“ In Kaduna State, we are exploring options of empowering women in agriculture by easing access to credit and inputs and their active participation in agricultural value chains
“It should come as no surprise to anyone here that the ADB’s ten year strategies (2012-2022) has placed high emphasis on gender equality and mainstreaming as prerequisites for African economic transformation and plans to proactively support women by developing unique tailor-made projects for women-led and women-dominated businesses in agriculture.
“We recognize that women are the cornerstone of agricultural production, processing, marketing and utilization in Kaduna State and that we would be unable to achieve any meaningful development without women. Women provide 70 per cent of agricultural labour; 50 per cent of animal husbandry related activities and 60 per cent of food processing in Nigeria, yet have access to only 20 per cent of available agricultural resources.
“In Kaduna State, almost 100 percent of all ginger farms are cultivated by women but not owned by them, and when owned, not in possession of statutory title. We hope to change that with KADGIS.
“Rather than seeing these statistics of women in agriculture as a reason for complaint or despondency, I urge you all to see them as opportunities for strategic repositioning; an example being the interesting ancillary of our Primary School Feeding Program that has empowered tens of thousands of women entrepreneurs in various levels of the agriculture value-chain involved in the feeding of nearly 1.8 million pupils every school day. Also in Kaduna State, we are courting investors assiduously.
“While stating his belief that the country will emerge stronger, more independent and more productive in the long run, El-Rufai said women will be a part of the transformational story.
“I have no doubt at all that to a large extent, women – whether in business, at home, in the farm and everywhere are the backbone on which that transformation and growth will be based.
“That is why I have been positively biased at appointing women to senior executive positions in all my public service positions, from the BPE, the FCT Administration and Kaduna State government. All but a couple of the ones I had the good fortune to appoint and work with, met and exceeded all expectations in their focus, execution, dedication and integrity. I believe strongly that Nigerian women are our future.”