Climate change has been spotted as one of the major challenges facing Smallholder Women Farmers in Nigeria. Once we address it, then we are closer to achieving #ZeroHunger by 2030.
Rural communities who depend on farming for food and income are especially vulnerable to climate change. Farmers who depend on predictable rainfall patterns are harvesting lower yields or even struggling to grow food. Soils are drying up quickly due to higher temperatures. New invasions of pests are marching through fields. Fodder and pasture for livestock is becoming harder to find. With hot seasons lasting longer, many communities now find that their sources of water are drying up. In many cases, these trends hit rural women the most.
The challenges of low voice and participation of smallholder women farmers in agricultural policy making processes at local, state and national levels needs to be addressed. Issues of poor access and control over land and low spending on agriculture by the government at all levels, little support to smallholder women farmers by government must also be addressed. Lack of access to agricultural credit/finance, business development/advisory services (extension services) and market access, and lack of access to government services of credit, inputs, training and advice, technology, crop insurance, etc needs to be addressed.
Yet there is ample evidence that agroecology systems, as nature-based solution, are superior to external input industrial and commercial agriculture, and are highly productive, highly sustainable, empower women, create jobs, engage youth, provide greater autonomy, build climate resilience, and multiple social, cultural and environmental benefits for women, youth and men in both rural and urban communities.
Women also face discrimination when they try to access credit to make the investments needed to cope with the impacts of climate change. During droughts, women and girls are forced to spend hours walking long distances to find water and fodder. And when crop failure reduces family incomes, girls will often be pulled out of school before their brothers.
There is an urgent need for increased public financing of agriculture and agro-ecology to transform the current industrial agriculture by placing agroecology strongly at the center of their climate change actions and create the enabling environment through policy and public support programmes for the scale up and scale out of agroecology as an alternative, nature-based solution to the failed industrial and commercial model of agriculture and food production system. Enforcing existing environmental laws and implementing policies and programmes to halt the rate of environmental degradation, restoration of degraded areas and conserve the ecological systems for agriculture to thrive.