By Funmilayo Adeyemi
The UNESCO Read and Earn Federation (UNESCO REF) has unveiled the Young Women in Agriculture (YWA) champions initiative, aimed at achieving “zero hunger” for the country.
The President, UNESCO REF, Prince Abdulsalami Ladigbolu, in Abuja on Wednesday said that initiative under its Strategic Intervention Programme -ALPHA (SIP-ALPHA) would help in attain the United Nations global goals before or by 2030.
According to him, agriculture was the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy before the discovery of crude oil.
As such, from 1960 to 1969, the sector accounted for average of 57 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and generated 64.5 per cent of export earnings.
Recognising the key role women play in agriculture, Ladigbolu said the initiative could not have come at any better time than now when food insecurity had become a major issue.
”The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that women make up 43 per cent of the agricultural workforce globally. This number goes up to over 60 per cent in least developed countries.
” In spite of the key role women play in agricultural development, women have less access to technologies, In information, resources, and finance for their agriculture activities across the globe.
”The cost of the gender productivity gap in agriculture-inequalities in access to and control of productive and financial resources inhibits agricultural productivity, reduces food security, and costs millions to countries,” he said.
The president also said that agriculture has incredible impact on lives and communities ranging from food provision to creating jobs and economic opportunities.
He canvassed for the exploration of new technologies and approaches that would transform the agricultural industry.
“At UNESCO REF, we are optimistic that this transformative approach would enhance the acceleration of past progress made by putting us on track towards achieving the goal of strengthening small holders, women’s livelihood and resilience in Nigeria.
” This is part of concerted efforts in ensuring food security, addressing food waste and loss, improve food nutrition security and provide them with viable strategies that create real, long-term results for economic development and community stability,” he added
He stressed the need for equal inclusion of women in all areas of development initiatives as this would enable them to fully use their potential, creativity and talents.
He said that their inclusion was instrumental for the economic development of the country, adding that the economic strength of women would help achieve other pillars of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Women’s Space in the United States, Ogechi Onyeukwu, said risks were associated with food insecurity, hunger, poverty and poor diets, hence the need for the initiative.
Onyeukwu said the Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had accelerated a global food crisis, driving millions more into extreme poverty, and around 205 million people across 45 countries now have so little food to eat.
”As a Nigerian in the diaspora, I have always been passionate about the development of women development and find it paramount to contribute my own quarter towards the actualisation of the United Nations global goal in the country.
”That is why I took it upon myself to talk to relevant stakeholders in the US, most especially with the executive members of Women’s space to see reasons why we should invest in women capacity building, focusing on the agricultural sector.
”This is because agriculture is also crucial to economic growth, accounting for 4 per cent of global GDP and in some least-developed countries, it can account for more than 25 per cent of GDP,” she said.
She further urged Nigerians in the diaspora to embrace the cause of women’s development to create a supportive environment for Nigerian women to thrive. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Julius Toba-Jegede