The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) has said that it would support 16 women cooperative societies in Niger with a N5.2 million grant to start agri-businesses.
Dr Dikko Radda, the Director-General, SMEDAN, disclosed this in Minna, at the start of a one-week training for the benefiting groups tagged, “Starting your own business.’’
Radda, who was represented by Mrs Oluyomi Faniyan, the Assistant Director, Agri-Business Department, SMEDAN, said that the programme was initiated by the agency under the Women in Self Employment Programme (WISEP).
“We want to empower women to be self-sufficient in agriculture. We are going to train 160 women from 16 cooperative societies made up of ten members each,” he said.
The Director-General said that the programme would be implemented in all the 36 states and Abuja to empower women in agriculture.
“Right now, this training is running concurrently in Sokoto, Edo and Niger states,” he said.
He explained that two weeks after the training the agency would provide the start-up grants of N325, 000 to each group, where every member would get N32,500 to start their agri-business.
Also speaking, Alhaji Ibrahim Panti, the state Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the state, under its 2020 to 2024 action plan on agriculture, will provide a guide and highlights of the different roles of women and men in agriculture.
“The document is expected to drastically reduce the vulnerability of women to biases in agriculture.
“Also, it will address the unequal gender power relations and bridge the gender gap, improve the contribution of small holder farmers, who are predominantly women with low access base,” he said.
Panti, who was represented by Alhaji Adamu Garba, the Director, Agriculture Services in the ministry, assured of the state government’s support to the programme.
Inaugurating the training, Dr Jibrin Mustapha, the state Commissioner for Investment, represented by his Technical Assistant, Mr Abubakar Sadauki, urged the beneficiaries to utilise the grant to encourage the federal government to do more.
Earlier, Mr Folorusho Ibrahim, the Manager, SMEDAN in the state, said that the groups were drawn from cooperatives in agriculture and shea butter producers.
Responding on behalf of the trainees, Mrs Grace Disa, the state Coordinator, Smallholder Women Farmers Organisation of Nigeria (SWOFON), who lauded SMEDAN for the gesture, promised that the money would be judicially utilised.