The Federal Government, in its bid to address deforestation in the country has distributed cooking gas cylinders to smallholder women farmers in the North Central Geopolitical Zone.
The Ministry of Agriculture had carried out a similar programme in other zones of the country to tackle deforestation, one of the major causes of climate change.
Dr Ernest Umakhihe, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, during the distribution on Thursday, March 3, 2022, in Abuja, said the cylinders would help the women to improve their health and productivity.
The cylinders were distributed on the sideline of the opening of the 6th edition of the Workshop on Gender Mainstreaming, in Abuja.
The theme of the workshop, “Climate Change Mitigation and Adaption Strategies for Smallholder Women Farmers’ in North Central Zone”, was described as timely and innovative.
Umakhihe, who was represented by Mrs Gertrude Orji, the Director, Reform Coordination Department in the ministry, said the theme of the workshop was on the heels of the outcome of the recent 2021 COP26 Climate Change Conference held in Glasgow, United Kingdom.
“As you are aware the National Gender Policy was approved in 2019 with the thrust hinged on gender equity and equality for optimum productivity in the agricultural sector.
“This ultimately, could ensure commitment to gender mainstreaming at all levels of agricultural process which is seen as a tool for achieving gender-based reforms and increasing productivity by men and women along all the value chains in the sector.
“Nigeria’s agricultural sector is most vulnerable and susceptible to the impact of climate change. The reason is not farfetched,” he said.
According to him, this is because it is rain-fed, dependent: any change in the weather pattern, in terms of the amount, intensity, duration, and the onset affect the farmer’s decisions on when, what and which of the crops to cultivate.
“Women who use firewood have health hazards but with the cooking gas cylinders it will help to improve their health and as well as that of the family.
“We are using this to empower them and not just these cooking gas cylinders alone, but with tokens so that they can go into production as they increase on it to improve their livelihood as time goes on,” he said.
In a goodwill message, the Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, said the empowerment of women is key to 2022 Celebration of women.
Tallen was represented by Mr Idris Mohammed, the Director, Economic Affairs Services, in the Ministry of Women Affairs.
“With climate change, empowerment of women is key and it is actually a line with the theme of this year’s Celebration of women.
“At this point, I want to recognise the contributions of women and girls around the world who have given climate change, adaption, mitigation and response to build a more sustainable future.
“Farmers are to align themselves with current trend on farming activities and understand the dynamism of climate change.
“The clean cooking given to women is to help mitigate climate change instead of using firewood,” she said.
Also, the Head, Gender, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mrs Ifeoma Anyanwu, said that the training is part of the gender policy on tackling climate change.
She said it was to sustain the tempo in terms of capacity building of women on climate change and across value chains in agriculture.
According to her, in each geopolitical zones of the country, 250 women were trained including FCT which was the grand finale.
A Professor in Criminology and Gender Studies, Hauwa Yusuf, expressed hope that the workshop would change the narrative among women farmers in mitigating climate change, and also increased their agricultural productivity.
However, she said that women have other challenges as farmers in terms of investment, environment, land, among others.
She said there was the need to create an enabling environment for them so that they could harness their resources to be able to progress in farming.
One of the beneficiaries, Mrs Comfort Sunday, from the FCT, commended the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for the empowerment, saying the cooking gas would cushion the effect of stress of using firewood and charcoal for cooking.