‘Agriculture Is The Only Viable Alternative To Oil And Gas’
Mrs. Afoma Adigwe is the Managing Director of Uyota Global Investment Ltd, a corporate body set up to offer agricultural consultancy, trainings, workshops and seminars. Her concern about the plight of rural women led to the establishment of Chrislara Farms. It was jointly established by her and her husband in 1994 and is aimed at creating a source of livelihood for rural women and youths.
MRS. Afoma Adigwe’s passion for women in the agricultural sector led her to set up her non-governmental organisation, Uplifting Women Through Farming (UWTF) 15 years ago, despite having a degree in Film Acting Studies from Central Academy, London.
According to her : “Food is life. We all eat food and we must eat to survive. Agriculture is the only viable alternative to oil and gas. A lot has been said about agricultural development in Africa and UWTF is here to walk the talk with action.
“I speak on behalf of our women and youths who are the leaders of tomorrow. Our focus is not to criticise but to encourage our government and other African countries by reaching out to the different stakeholders. We are in partnership with the African Development Bank (ADB) and the organisation is ready to take a quick action on the solutions of transforming agriculture in Africa to the next level”.
She revealed that she started UWTF in Delta State in 2000. The first thing she got involved with was organising a workshop on how to make use of cassava and they collaborated with International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and then involved women in Kogi and gradually they have spread to other parts of the country through funds from the Nigerian microfinance banks.
Speaking on the challenges grassroots women face with agriculture, Mrs. Adigwe said: “The problem that grassroots farmers have is lack of information. This I have studied in the last 15 years. Another challenge is access to funding; if there is fund set aside somewhere and women do not know about it, how can they access the funds? So, women are handicapped, most of them do not go to the bank and when they do, there are so many other limitations waiting for them there.
“We know the protocols in the banks. If someone like me cannot get to access the fund, how can the layman access the funds? And so, we are here to go to the women at the grassroots and solve their developmental needs. Sometimes, these women do not even need the funds; all they need is the facility to work with or infrastructure including good road network, water supply, and land to farming, transportation and electricity.
“We also know what it takes for a woman to own land or property in some parts of the country. Unfortunately, these are some of the things that they ask for as collateral. In the banking system, there is nothing like self-identification, so where do these women stand?
“My fight for women has always been how they can have collateral or be able to access the funds that are set aside for them. We all have to solve this problem collectively. Government must make sure that the right infrastructure is in place.