UN Women hands over agricultural equipment, seedlings to farmers in Bo

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By Alhaji Haruna Sani

As part of efforts to empower women in agriculture, UN Women Sierra Leone on Thursday 27th June 2024 handed over Agricultural Equipment and inputs to the Women in Agriculture Network (WiAN) at Ma Nyande Farm, Tikonko village, Bo.

 Among the equipment and seedling donated include; solar power irrigation system, fish ponds, power tiler machine/tractor, chicken feed machine, rice, corn, orange flesh potatoes and onions’.

Other items donated are Furniture for WiAN Agro-Business Center: 10-seater conference table, office chairs with leather, Metal filing cabinet shelves, 3-seater metal waiting room chair, conference blue tooth speakers, HDMI Multimedia Projector, Small office safe, Office Desk, and office chairs swing model.

During the donation ceremony, Kadija Isata Jalloh, Programme Specialist, Women Economic Empowerment- UN Women, indicated that Women represent 70 percent of the agricultural labor force of Sierra Leone and they play an important role in natural resource management and food production.

She added that despite the critical position and contribution of women in agriculture, women are often discriminated against ownership, access to and control of land, and most importantly, women are not realizing their economic impact from their agricultural activities. She said that is largely because of discriminatory, customary and statutory laws which favor men to women.

She went on to state that In Sierra Leone, agriculture constitutes a significant fragment of the economy. Two-thirds of the population of Sierra Leone is involved in subsistence agriculture mainly because the country lacks viable agricultural value chain and entrepreneurial activity. This is why UN Women donated the equipment.

According to the Minister of Fisheries, women contribute immensely to the growth of homes and the rearing of children. She added that UN Women has for quite a long time been supporting and empowering women in Sierra Leone, thereby complimenting the efforts and vision of the government, which according to her put women at the forefront of national development.

She underscored that as a minister, she intends to see Sierra Leone at the forefront of women development in the region not only in Sierra Leone. The minister admonished the beneficiaries to take very good care of the equipment so that more donations will be made subsequently.

In her remarks, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture 1 conveyed delights for the donations made and expressed hope that the beneficiaries will handle the equipment diligently, noting that Women need skills in transformational leadership and among many other things: access to information, record keeping and increased orientation in agribusiness. Women make up 70 percent of agricultural business in Sierra Leone but realize little or no benefit.

The country has rich soil and over the years, women have managed to utilize it for agricultural purpose. The labor in agriculture is provided by women but men get the lion share and it is time for women to benefit from what they labor for.

Juliet Lavalie, Founder and president for Women in Agriculture Network (WIA), thanked UN Women for the donations made. She highlighted that the importance of food cannot be underrated as it helps them grow up their children and provide for the rest of the family.

According to Juliet, there are challenges faced by women farmers such as, limited access to information and arable land, ineffectiveness of agribusiness centers, multiplicity of farmers’ unions not co-operating with one another, financial services for farmers being diverted to traders, non-availability of land in western mountain districts, high cost of inputs such as chemical fertilizers and low uptake of organic alternatives, untimely distribution of inputs such as seeds, male dominance of gender positions in local councils, environmental degradation negatively impacting agriculture, limited access to information, political involvement in agriculture, poor road infrastructure, limited support to women enterprises from Sierra Leonean financial sources, and challenges with pest control.

At the end of the donation, the beneficiaries, Women in Agriculture Network expressed gratitude for the donation and expresses hope that such donations will be made to them in subsequent times.

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