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By agronigeria, December 1, 2017
women at farmMember states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have been urged to enact and implement gender-friendly legislations to encourage women participation in agriculture.
The charge was made by participants at a conference jointly organised by the ECOWAS Parliament, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and Oxfam International with the theme, “Promoting gender equality in agricultural investment in Africa” in Abuja on Thursday.
Participants at the 2-day conference disclosed that women constitute between 60 and 80 per cent of smallholder farmers, and form the largest percentage of the workforce in the agricultural sector.
Senior Officer for Gender, Equality and Rural Development of the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), Tacko Ndiaye, stated that less than 10 per cent of women in some West African countries own lands, noting that increased investments by member states in women would improve their productivity.
“A 2013 survey by the Gambian Ministry of Agriculture revealed that 90 percent of rice producers and rice field managers are women. There is no choice but to invest in women,” she said.
Ndiaye also called for capacity-diven investments in agriculture in the country.
Oxfam International West African Regional Director, Adama Coulibaly, who also stressed the need for gender equality and the protection of smallholder farmers in the sub- region, lamented a situation where investors buy up rural lands at the expense of smallholder farmers in the rural areas.
“80 per cent of people in agriculture here in Africa are smallholders. Our governments need to have well-balanced policies so that when investors invest in large-scale agriculture the rights of small-scale farmers should be promoted and protected. If not, we will end up creating more vulnerabilities,” the Oxfam official said.
In her speech, Agriculture and Investment Advisor at IISD, Carin Smaller, called on member states to consider women in policy formulation to maximise their participation in the agricultural sector.
She said the IISD is working with national governments and parliaments to tackle legal impediments to land rights in West Africa, as well as draft laws towards the achievement of the SDGs.
https://agronigeria.com.ng/ecowas-urged-enact-laws-protect-women-agric/

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