The Federal Government has inaugurated the National Gender Steering Committee for the Implementation of Gender Policy in the agriculture sector to enhance food security.

Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, made this known in a statement issued by Mrs Juliet Okeh, the Principal Information Officer in the ministry, on Wednesday in Abuja.

Umakhihe, while inaugurating the committee, said that the initiative would promote and ensure the adoption of gender sensitive responsive approaches, plans and programmes in such a way that men and women would have equal access and control of productive resources.

He said that the availability of the policy document was expected to address the vulnerability of women to biases in the agriculture sector, integrate gender perspectives in national planning; create more jobs for women and financial empowerment.

“The ministry is committed to mainstreaming of gender issues in the agriculture sector to achieve food Security, eradicate poverty and hunger in Nigeria,” he said.

Umakhihe said that the National Gender Policy in Agriculture was consistent with the Global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by World Leaders at the UN Summit in New York, U.S. in September, 2015 which underscored the vital role agriculture played in sustainable development.

“Also, it is importance in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of eradicating poverty (SGG-1), ending hunger, achieving food Security,(SDG-2), ensuring healthy lives (SDG-3) and enhancing the empowerment of All Women and Girls (SDG-5); to bridge the gender gap and enhance food Security.

“The agriculture sector has been repositioned as a business through the value chain development and as an alternative to crude oil, therefore, efforts should be geared toward the implementation of policies and programmes for the realisation of this government’s initiatives and programmes,” he said.

He called on the committee members to accomplish the onerous responsibility assigned to them to ensure full implementation of the 11 elective objectives of this policy document for positive outcome.

The Director, Special Duties in the Ministry, Mrs Fausat Lawal, said that the policy document was a developmental strategy for poverty reduction and it was expected to empower small scale holder farmers who were predominately women.

“Women small scale holder farmers constitute about 70 to 80 per cent of the agriculture labour force and they produced the bulk of food for domestic consumption,” she said.

The Country Director, ActionAid, Mrs Ene Obi, lauded the ministry for deeming it fit to inaugurate the National Gender Steering Committee and ensuring that relevant stakeholders were members of the committee.

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Obi said that the implementation of a gender policy had been an issue with government policies and therefore commended the ministry’s efforts in identifying the gender gaps in agriculture through the document.

She solicited for the inclusion of executives of the smallholder farmers into the committee and pledged continuous support of ActionAid toward implementation of the policy.

The Chairman of the Committee, Mr. Azubuike Nwokoye, thanked the management of the ministry for giving them the opportunity to serve and promised that the committee would  deliver on its mandate.(NAN)