In the wake of President Bola Tinubu’s decision to withdraw the subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit and the Central Bank of Nigeria’s move to unify the foreign exchange market, the Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation of Nigeria (SWOFON) has urgently called upon the Federal Government to extend palliative support to address the spiraling cost of living.
The escalating expenses have caused distress among female farmers who find themselves grappling with the soaring prices of essential goods and services.
Mary Afan, the President of SWOFON, highlighted the pervasive surge in transportation, food, and commodity prices, labeling it a well-known issue. During a press conference held in Abuja on Tuesday, Afan lamented the plight of smallholder farmers who, due to the escalating cost of inputs and transportation, have been forced to shrink their farmlands.
The women farmers’ group beseeched the Federal Government to promptly furnish them with palliative measures, improved seeds, and farming inputs for the dry season.
They also appealed for targeted transportation subsidies, support for climate-smart agriculture, enhanced market access, improved funding for agriculture, and other vital interventions.
Afan expressed concern over the lack of a structured approach to include farmers, especially women, in the distribution of relief measures amidst these challenging times.
She further decried the absence of provisions like seeds and improved inputs to incentivize heightened agricultural production.
The removal of fuel subsidies and other governmental policies have, regrettably, led to considerable obstacles for the nation’s agriculture and its pursuit of food security.
The subsequent rise in input costs and transportation expenses has been particularly detrimental to the backbone of the agricultural sector – smallholder women farmers.
Mary Afan went on to underscore the debilitating effects of the elimination of fuel subsidies, which has translated into an undeniable surge in transportation costs.
This phenomenon disproportionately affects smallholder farmers who rely on affordable transportation to move their produce to market.
The impact of this policy direction has also crippled the movement of goods to markets, creating a paralysis in processing activities that depend on petrol-powered engines.
Furthermore, the aftermath of the Russia-Ukraine war has exacerbated the challenges, causing prices of essential inputs like fertilizers to skyrocket.
Consequently, the Federal Government’s new policy stance has amplified the already escalated costs of farming inputs.
Since the President’s announcement, farm input costs have surged by 71%, while labor expenses have witnessed a 149% surge. Additionally, transportation costs have surged by over 130%.
Grace Disa, the Vice President of SWOFON, emphasized that farmers are grappling with a pressing challenge that urgently necessitates the intervention of both federal and state governments.
Disa warned that if the situation remains unaddressed, it could lead to food insecurity, severe malnutrition, heightened poverty rates, and an exacerbation of the already challenging economic circumstances for farmers.
Disa illustrated the dramatic increase in transportation costs and the prices of essential inputs like fertilizers.
She pointed out that farmers, previously paying between N800 and N1200 to transport their produce to the market, are now forking out N2000 to N2500.
In this climate of increased costs, SWOFON remains committed to highlighting the plight of smallholder women farmers.
They urge the government to not only consider the effects of the fuel subsidy removal but also the impacts of climate change, including erratic rainfall, temperature extremes, and flooding, which disproportionately affect women farmers.
SWOFON calls for the implementation of resilient and climate-smart agricultural practices along with targeted interventions to support the vital role of women farmers in ensuring food security.
In closing, Afan stresses the importance of recognizing the invaluable contribution of farmers, especially women, to the nation’s food security.
She underscores the necessity of involving farmers in program planning and design, echoing their motto: “No farmer, No food on the table, no nation.”
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