Cooperation, Gender, Technology & Innovation

Insights from our Partners

Women as protagonists of change

To mark the 2021 International Women’s Day, WOFAN rewarded 300 smallholder women farmers from Dogon Bauchi and Samaru, Zaria, Kaduna state, Nigeria, with input and processing equipment, to motivate them to take their development into their own hands.

The Women Farmers’ Advancement Network (WOFAN), is a coalition of over 4500 small-holder farmers’ groups with 30 members per group. WOFAN builds the knowledge and production capacity of its network through training, awareness creation, as well as supports them with resources and linkages to markets, allowing them to increase their agricultural productivity and scale, through economic independence, political empowerment and improved sustainable livelihood.

As part of WOFAN’s activities, to commemorate the International Women’s Day 2021, which promotes collective action and shared ownership to drive gender parity, WOFAN was inspired to celebrate the International Women's Day (IWD) differently this year.

WOFAN decided to encourage their network groups, to conduct self-assessments, inclusive of a self-imposed goal, to measure their individual group progress in order to demonstrate how they have used all the capacity trainings and support received from WOFAN in the last 2 years. Accompanied by explanations of status changes that have happened at the family and community level. Showcasing their day to day activities and how they have truly made positive changes to boost their productivity and rice processing capacities.

Dogon Bauchi and Samaru women groups (made up of 150 women each per cluster) all belonging to Zaria in Kaduna state, Nigeria, shared personal stories in the presence of traditional and religious leaders, community members, media and all stakeholders.

The group leaders Hajia Hadiza from Dogon Bauchi, and Titi Apeaku from Samaru, shared their experiences about how they started as smallholder farmers with little or no capacity to up-scale their agribusinesses. The two women farmed at a continuous loss and served other millers receiving only a token reward of N100 per day, for 8 hours of hard labor, until they met WOFAN. Dogon Bauchi and Samaru consists of 150 women processors, who started as low income support hands for millers and are paid token fees of N300 per bag of well parboiled rice.

Titi Apeaku stated that, WOFAN extended all the trainings the field workers received from CARI trainers to their members, giving their members a clearer understanding of group mobilization, business management, keeping records and maintaining financial discipline. Furthermore, Titi explained that members now use their phones and calculators daily to keep accurate records of the groups finances, after processing or marketing. In addition, the Executive Director of WOFAN mentioned that within the last 2 years the Dogon Bauchi and Samaru women were recipients of CARI-GIZ capacity building training programs, through extension workers and WOFAN field supervisors, who had received training from CARI in the following areas:

I. Farmer Business School (FBS),

II. Sustainable rice production,

III. Improved processing and nutrition training,

IV. Rice Advice, ICT and use of 3D animation,

V. Contract farming and linkages to markets

Moreover, Titi mentioned that her group is using radios to listen to news on farming activities, more especially radio programmes like the WOFAN and CARI weekly sponsored programs on health titbits, to improve family nutrition, or political issues that are happening within their communities.

ICT solutions assists the women in following the seasonal calendar and gives helpful inputs for sustainable rice production. Due to the digital marketing training from WOFAN and the use of SMS, WhatsApp and the recording of their messages to advertise their products, the women have become more recognised and respected in their community, said the Samaru team leader.

Through the CARI project, power tillers were acquired by WOFAN to support the use of simple technology that saves time and reduces hardships, especially for the women. WOFAN has since trained Dogon Bauchi and Samaru women to manage and utilize power tillers.

It is a lot more gender friendly, easy to access and gives the same end result as tractors driven by men”. Rabi Chakawa remarked as she rolled off the power tiller, displaying her ploughing skills.

Furthermore, the training on Contract Farming enriched the women’s decision-making skills, as they are now better able to negotiate the costs of input and the selling price of their paddy and other farm products:

“In the past, we were told what to be given and what to give back and we realized we just farmed for the off-takers and aggregators. Now we negotiate before the cropping period, then shortly before harvest to be sure we are making profit. Likewise, we share our fertilizers and inputs and make sure every woman gets her inputs as agreed by the cooperative. Before WOFAN and CARI, we were not involved in such important decision-making discussions” (Bilkisu Isiyaku, member of the WOFAN group).

In sum, Dogon Bauchi and Samaru women have together created a sustainable pathway, allowing them to replicate capacity building for themselves and their clusters, in order to further urge them to continue to be role models to others. They are taking their own development into their own hands.

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