From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and its agency, the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) have been accused of frustrating the efforts of women in the agriculture business to establish or expand their businesses.
The Founder, Every Woman Agricultural Empowerment Initiative, Mrs Queen Babalola, told reporters at an event to mark the International Women’s Day in Abuja that the organisations have made things difficult for women who desire financial support, education and the knowledge needed to boost their business.
She said the women have formally written and approached CBN and NIRSAL for different kinds of support, which they never received, frustrating the efforts of the women to expand the value chain of the agriculture business.
‘We have been unable to access interventions from NIRSAL or any other government agency. I have gone to NIRSAL several times to solicit their support, but that has not pulled through. Howbeit, we won’t relent but persist in our quest to get their attention and support,’ she said.
‘I am aware that there are funds domiciled in CBN and other organisations meant to support women in the agriculture business but many people are unaware of it. These people need to sensitise us and educate us about the opportunities and how we could access them.
‘We even wrote and requested that NIRSAL attend events we organised to mark the International Women’s Day in Abuja, to speak and educate women in the agriculture business on available opportunities, but they never showed up. The last communication I got from them was that the invitation letter was at the table of the Director-General and he was yet to attend to it,’ Babalola said.
She solicited the intervention and support of individuals and corporations in the effort to empower women so that they can be useful to themselves, their families and society.
Dr Oscar Ofuka, Special Adviser to Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade on Cocoa Development and Control, encouraged the women to be resilient and determined to succeed, assuring them that help will come sooner than expected.
He encouraged the women to venture into cocoa farming which, he said, might replace oil as a major source of revenue for individuals, organisations and Nigeria in the future.