September 18, 2019
By Emmanuel Okyne
The European Union through Boosting Agriculture for Food Security (BAFS) project has supported the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAF) through Gender in Agriculture Policy (GiAP).
The GiAP is a guiding document with a strategic framework for action to influence and support the integration of gender issues in agriculture policies, strategies and programs.
The validation session took place at the St. Antony Hall, on September 17, 2019.
Highlighting the purpose of the validation session, Head of Gender in Agriculture and Nutrition Unit, MAF Mariama Turay, commended MAF for recognizing gender issues in the agricultural sector.
She said government has prioritised agriculture as an engine of Scio- economic growth, adding that there was commitment in supporting the priority within the MAF vision of National Agriculture Transformation plan 2023.
Madam Turay said rural women in the agriculture sector are challenged with low income, education and loan facilities among others, noting that growth for women in the sector has been very slow.
She emphasised that the policy would help women greatly in moving away from subsistence farming to that of large-scale farming.
Program Specialist, UN Women, Bendu Massaquoi said UN Women is working on four thematic areas and that one area falls within the policy, which is entrepreneurship for women development.
She said agriculture is concerns as bulk of women find themselves in the sector especially in the rural areas.
Madam Massaquio appealed to MAF and partners to utilize the policy after the validation process and advised for it not to be shelved.
“UN women will continue to give technical supports in rolling out the document,” she noted.
Deputy Director Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs, Marian Goodie Sowonie said the 2016 Housing Census revealed that the bulk of the country’s population constitute women and many of them depend on agriculture.
She added that antique method of farming were affecting women greatly in the sector, stating that mechanized farming would improve on their yield.
Madam Sowonie said it was high time women farmers recognized their benefits in the sector, noting that agrarian women are mostly engaged in subsistence farming that is not sufficient to look after their families.
Imprest Administrator for the BAFS project, Jemillatu Stober, said the overall objective of the programme is to reduce poverty and food insecurity in Sierra Leone through better governance and improved household living conditions.
She said the project has three folds including institutional capacity building of the MAF, formulation of food security strategies and sector policies.
She maintained that the project will also support applied research, support to cashew, cocoa and coffee for export and support to environmentally sustainable agricultural diversification and entrepreneurship.