Welcome To The Let's Talk Agriculture Podcast Show

[00:00 – 00:12] Hello, beautiful people. Indeed, that is one of my biggest pleasures, is always when I went to my own farm. So I think it is important to first understand what a healthy relationship with food is for us to know what it is not.
[00:12 – 00:24] Don’t try to be selfish. You could be your own farmer pretty soon. Who knows? Trust. Trust me when I tell you, there will always be challenges.
[00:24 – 00:35] There will always be risks. Seems like we have a lot in common. Welcome to the Let’s Talk Agriculture podcast show. And of course, it’s your favorite girl, Sharida Husa.
[00:41 – 00:54] Hello, beautiful people. Welcome to the Let’s Talk Agriculture podcast show, where you listen firsthand the happenings, innovations, and experiences from top leaders in the industry.
[00:54 – 01:05] Today, we are exploring the gender gaps in agriculture and how we can empower female farmers in Nigeria. And I have just the perfect speaker for that.
[01:06 – 01:18] So with a clapping ovation, join me as I welcome our guest for today, Grace Fosin, the country director at MEDA. Now, she’s one of my favorite women
[01:18 – 01:27] at the forefront of gender equality and women empowerment in Nigeria. Hi, Grace. Thank you so much for joining the Let’s Talk Agriculture podcast show.
[01:28 – 01:38] I’m really excited to have you here today. Thank you. I can’t wait for us to do this. Thank you, Sharon. Thank you, Sharon. The pleasure is mine. I’m happy to be here. Thank you.
[01:39 – 01:50] Thank you so much once again for joining. So I really want to make sure that you’ve received your blessings for the year because, I mean, we can’t go and start the year without our blessings, can we?
[01:51 – 02:01] Thank you. Thank you very much. Okay. So I’d like to start with your personal experiences as a woman in the agriculture sector.
[02:02 – 02:13] I mean, I’m sure you must have had some difficulties at some point in your life. I mean, you’ve been through some sort of challenge through this phase of your life.
[02:13 – 02:26] I mean, considering we are in a male-dominated industry. So maybe you can share how you dealt with it. I mean, how it was like, because I know, I know, I know you know what I’m talking about, but.
[02:29 – 02:40] Of course, Sharon, you should ask me. I respect that. And as a woman in agriculture from the northern part of Nigeria, in fact, not Eastern Nigeria to be precise,
[02:42 – 02:49] it’s interesting that my journey in this field, in the sector, began when I went to school. I took on that course.
[02:50 – 03:01] And just about four of us women taking the course amidst about 30-something men.
[03:02 – 03:14] You know, so it was a challenging time for us because we went to learn how to drive tractors, how to do all of these things.
[03:14 – 03:24] And for women, they’re thinking, this is not something that, you know, it’s a field that women should or it’s not very popular, you know.
[03:25 – 03:36] But we were committed and we weathered the storm, the challenges. And we were able to come through. It’s very interesting. I love the soil.
[03:36 – 03:47] For me, I’m somebody that I’m very, very passionate about farming. I’m passionate about agriculture. And so I grew from a family, a heritage of agriculture people.
[03:47 – 03:57] So that resonates with me even while I was in school. The challenges are there because basically, for everything, they prioritize men.
[03:59 – 04:10] So when it comes to agriculture, it’s about giving land or imputes, whatever. Even in the course of my work that I am currently on,
[04:10 – 04:21] you see that the women actually don’t get the first, you know, they are not prioritized. They don’t get the first place in terms of maybe giving out
[04:21 – 04:30] land when you go to the agri-development program to secure a piece of land for the season. So you see this.
[04:30 – 04:42] These are all bottlenecks that women in agriculture face right from when they, as farmers in the field or as people who are
[04:42 – 04:50] working in the marketplace, everywhere, men are prioritized. Even though we want to talk about gender balance and all,
[04:51 – 05:00] but we still find it playing out in several places where we work. So that has been lingering.
[05:00 – 05:09] And I believe it’s getting better, but we haven’t conquered it all. Yeah. Thank you for sharing that.
[05:10 – 05:21] I am very, very certain that that whole gender balance thing is something that we are still going to continue working on because whether we like it or not,
[05:21 – 05:30] they are still going to show, give that preference to men. But then it’s just about having more women coming out and still playing their roles. And that’s
[05:30 – 05:40] why I really admire you and appreciate you for coming out and taking up leadership roles, you know, to inspire and educate more women.
[05:40 – 05:48] Because, I mean, when they see you doing this, it becomes very easy for them to, you know, want to get involved and take up leadership roles,
[05:48 – 05:59] because I think that is where we can really see a balance, because if we don’t have more women coming into the picture and taking up these leadership roles,
[05:59 – 06:10] then how can we look out for that balance? Because we need to be, we need to be plenty for us to want to take over something, right? So. Yeah.
[06:10 – 06:19] And sometimes, let me jump in here. It’s not that perhaps the women aren’t there or aren’t willing. Sometimes it’s just that the men are prioritized, like I said, over the women.
[06:19 – 06:29] You’ll find that it’s, I don’t know if it’s in this part of our world, but I have seen several. Really.
[06:29 – 06:40] Where there’s a woman there, there are men there, give it piece of land, give it inputs, give it, they will always prioritize the
men over the women.
[06:40 – 06:48] But if you are intentional, like what we do, we’re really intentional about focusing on
[06:48 – 06:58] women and ensuring that the women have agency, they have a voice, they have their space. So until, you know, that is done.
[06:58 – 07:06] It’s the, that, that, uh, discrimination, however, whether we want to see it or want to say it, admit it, it’s still there.
[07:06 – 07:14] So I just wanted to add that, sorry, thank you for adding that.
[07:14 – 07:26] I mean, we just have to know how intentional women to, you know, really play parts in this because if we are not there, nobody’s going to do it for us. That’s fine. Okay. Okay.
[07:28 – 07:38] So every, every industry, just like you said, um, there are challenges that we face. I mean, so many challenges and I’m sure that the agricultural sector is not left out where
[07:38 – 07:51] we talk about, um, women in agriculture that there are so many challenges that you face talk about access to finance, talk about access to labs, like you mentioned, I mean, women still face this.
[07:51 – 08:04] I know that in some parts of Nigeria at some point, or maybe it’s still even happening, happening women do not have access to lands and the funny thing is that most of the women are the
[08:04 – 08:10] ones going to the farm i know a place i think maybe i shouldn’t call them the states but i know that
[08:11 – 08:18] some women some women um actually provide food more than the men i mean they go to the farm
[08:18 – 08:27] the farm why the men do not do anything so basically women are actually um using lands more
[08:27 – 08:36] than men in some locations but still yet they don’t get prioritized now i want to get some of
[08:36 – 08:48] the key challenges that women are facing in nigerian agriculture from your own point of view actually yeah so like you rightly mentioned from my past
[08:48 – 08:53] perspective and i will speak to it based on my experience in the field of agriculture that i’ve
[08:53 – 09:02] been working um access to information because like in this part women are not they they are
[09:02 – 09:12] they are not very mobile in terms of you know getting out of the marketplace if i talk about the women in the rural space
because they form the majority of those that are active
[09:12 – 09:18] in on the farm in processing of agricultural produce and all of that so you know i think that’s a big part of the problem i think that’s a big part of the problem
[09:18 – 09:28] access to information maybe perhaps there’s a there there is a a program ongoing there is a new
[09:28 – 09:40] initiative it you will see men hijacking there’s a male dominance hijacking the whole thing because the woman is there back at home she’s not even aware she’s not aware that certain things are
[09:40 – 09:48] available or are happening and even when she does become aware it’s already taking majority of it is taken by women
[09:48 – 10:01] by the men uh and of course the the issue of not being prioritized and not being intentional makes that because if we’re intentional and focused that will be even though they say 60
[10:01 – 10:08] percent of these 70 percent of these are women you still find that not up to 50 40 percent of
[10:08 – 10:19] event the people who eventually get those kinds of interventions are actually women so i i i want to say that male hijack a lack of information is a very important part of the problem and i think that’s a very important part of the problem and i think that’s a very important part of the problem
[10:19 – 10:28] um is critical to um the things that are actually affecting women based on where they are located at
[10:28 – 10:37] men tend to know more and men tend to go out more for it than the women so information is key and
[10:37 – 10:48] then access to finance when the woman goes and even where we work now we see it happening you the woman goes to get facility they ask her to bring her husband they ask her to bring
[10:48 – 10:56] somebody to sign and so once they take away that agency that control of their resources away from
[10:56 – 11:03] the woman from that onset because of course she is under a man you know and if she gets him to sign
[11:03 – 11:09] and he decides to use the resources otherwise she basically has little or nothing to say
[11:09 – 11:18] on the contrary so you see all of most of these things add up to um allowing the woman to be disadvantaged
[11:18 – 11:27] when it comes to having access and having agency and playing actively you know in the sector as she
[11:27 – 11:37] would want to do talking about women especially in the rural areas that engage in farming but if you look at basically majority of you talk about the rise value chain if they are talking about
[11:37 – 11:48] parboiling for example you see that the women are the active players there they are the ones that do all the you know hard work go to the farm do most of them
[11:48 – 11:58] most of the uh smallholder farmers you see that you find are women and there are communities locations where the women are the ones that are more active than the men when it comes to
[11:58 – 12:09] farm activities um so yeah i would want to talk about access mobility information finance and
[12:09 – 12:20] many more you know and the technical know-how you see these equipments most of them are not gender sensitive so even if women have access they will need to be able to access the equipment and they will need to be able to access the equipment and they will need to depend on their male
[12:20 – 12:29] uh counterparts to help them you know um work you know to run the machines be it tractors be it uh
[12:29 – 12:37] you know treasures be it harvesters be all so you find the um male dominance still playing out in
[12:37 – 12:47] most of these things some of the technologies that could perhaps be gender gender friendly you know gender sensitive because in the work we do now we try to
[12:47 – 12:53] work alongside local fabricators of technology to ensure that women’s voices are heard in terms of
[12:53 – 13:00] what they can do differently to enhance women’s ability and capacity to engage and to work with
[13:00 – 13:08] those tools so yeah these are just a few of the things that i like to bring up here okay i think
[13:08 – 13:21] i think that’s pretty interesting this is pretty interesting i mean these challenges that you’ve just mentioned are very important to me and i think that’s a very important thing to me and i think that’s a very important thing to me and i think that’s a very important thing to me and i think that’s a very important thing to me and i’m just wondering what can actually be done about
[13:21 – 13:29] this because if you’re talking about um um the the woman going to agencies to get access to finance
[13:29 – 13:36] and then she still has to bring a male counterpart or something to come sign for her does does this
[13:36 – 13:47] have anything to do with our policies or it has something to do with the agencies themselves i mean because women they’re not it’s not like they’re handicapped right they’re not they’re not like they’re handicapped right they’re not they’re not they’re not they’re not they’re not
[13:47 – 13:59] actually go for these things or it’s not like they’re not brilliant or smart enough to handle all of those things so why do they
have to come with their husbands to say hey this is this is
[13:59 – 14:09] this is how you’re supposed to collect the loan so does this have anything to do with setting up policies for that to actually be a balance
[14:10 – 14:17] yeah so i think the organizations you know microfinance bodies agencies that kind of give up like you know like you know like you know like you know like you know like you know
[14:17 – 14:29] loans or facilities for agriculture to these women that’s how they designed perhaps their products you know they have their checklists they have their kycs they have their criteria for access
[14:29 – 14:36] to those facilities and in the work we do we’ve tried to work with some of these institutions to
[14:36 – 14:48] to say you need to be very very intentional in designing products that are specific for women you understand they are unique they don’t have all the time to come and stay in the bank you are you understand they are unique they don’t have all the time to come and stay in the bank you
[14:48 – 14:58] are a woman she’s resilient she she’s multifaceted she has so many things that is calling for her attention so we need to be intentional in designing products that will allow the woman
[14:58 – 15:09] have access and if you check it women have the the most um credit credit worthiness they they
[15:09 – 15:17] pay their loans they they you don’t find them you know uh not paying back the loan
[15:17 – 15:23] like their male counterparts we’ve seen in the work we have done that women are more you know
[15:24 – 15:35] you uh you you find them more they come through you know in paying back loans than the the male
[15:35 – 15:47] counterparts yeah so we have tried to see and um work alongside the microfinance institutions microfinance bank to ensure that they design
[15:48 – 16:01] products that are specifically for women just to help women access more funding and to help women you know meet criteria they should take off there are some criteria some of these institutions have
[16:01 – 16:07] actually take off some criteria that are actually in stopping women from having access to this uh
[16:07 – 16:18] finance so when you see an institution’s portfolio at risk you see that women are not the problem most of the time the view the problem is that women are not the problem most of the time the view the
[16:18 – 16:31] larger part of it is from the men i would say that and one of the questions you asked is how can we ensure that what can we do government institution so i think the need for
[16:32 – 16:41] institutions whether it be government ngos cbo’s is the need for them to be very intentional
[16:41 – 16:48] if we’re intentional to get more women we will direct the design of whatever
[16:48 – 17:01] intervention we have to be friendly to the woman farmer, to the woman processor, to the woman in agriculture. So we will have that at the back of our mind when designing products, when designing
[17:01 – 17:09] projects, when designing any initiative. Now, so if we are intentional, we take cognizance of the
[17:09 – 17:17] different and the unique features that products for women should have or implementation structures
[17:17 – 17:22] should have. And when we put all of that in place, we will definitely see that more women are
[17:22 – 17:30] targeted and more women are engaged. Like where I sit from where we work, we have 70% targeted
[17:30 – 17:43] at women at intervention. And we have actually achieved that. It wasn’t easy. We have to step back a lot of times to look at what can we do differently to ensure that more women are involved.
[17:43 – 17:54] And I tell you, we have been able to use some gender action learning tools to get more women on board. It wasn’t easy at
first because you would see
[17:54 – 18:00] some male resistance to some of the initiative board when we got them together to become gender
[18:00 – 18:08] champions themselves. So having male allies to support these women in whatever initiative we’re
[18:08 – 18:16] working on really is very critical. So we give men their place, we give them their respect, and we allow them.
[18:16 – 18:23] Let them see that women are not competing, but they are complementing them towards success.
[18:23 – 18:30] And most of the time they saw that and it really brought about the shift. It was a game changer for
[18:30 – 18:37] us when we realized and we began to have male champions advocating for women and being the voices
[18:37 – 18:46] out there. Thank you. Thank you for sharing that. I think it’s interesting to know that we have men now championing for women. When we had men and women with the same status, they were able to think
[18:46 – 18:53] women and i think that at some point there has been this misconception about women not being
[18:53 – 18:59] able to run successful businesses or handle finances so maybe that actually led to some
[18:59 – 19:06] of this microfinance bank to put up such policies or um for them to get access to loans and the rest
[19:06 – 19:13] but if we have more men championing um women to see that women are not actually competing i really
[19:13 – 19:21] hate the idea of women want to become um what’s the word they want to become kings i mean i like
[19:21 – 19:28] the idea of women being queens because i i feel that we play more we play a very crucial role
[19:28 – 19:35] as queens i mean we compliment the men so if you want to become a king then i i don’t know i think
[19:35 – 19:42] you’re losing out that that’s my that’s my perspective so i feel that women should remain women women should remain
[19:43 – 19:52] gender equality is not about um um competing with the women with the men it’s about creating
[19:52 – 20:04] the balance let me compliment i mean it’s just like in marriage right you’re complimenting your husband you’re supporting your husband like let me just add something like you were saying just
[20:04 – 20:13] like in marriage the the tool we use to get the women to get the men you know um supporting and then championing for women the gender actual
[20:13 – 20:25] learning tool actually helped a great deal and then you see them bringing their resources together they had common goals they have said families that will never they sat together to develop
[20:25 – 20:38] visions one year vision two year visions for themselves their families their businesses you can’t imagine and they are so happy now with the results they are getting and um for the groups
[20:38 – 20:50] that we’ve set these women together in groups because we see the power in working together and coming together rather than working individually for these women in this field they’ve been over for the time over
[20:51 – 20:59] 72 months they are about the women generated more than 700 million
[21:01 – 21:12] 509 groups of 25 women you know generated that amount of money it blew my mind it blew the ass too but then that’s the power of focus
[21:13 – 21:21] support you know and resilience in doing what they are doing so in their savings group with
[21:21 – 21:33] their businesses they’ve been able to generate um these resources over time becoming their bankers because they needed to challenge the norm when it was clear they weren’t getting the finance they
[21:33 – 21:43] wanted so they said what so we together with the women what what can we do differently and so we pulled them together in groups and over time taught them how to do it and they were able to do it
[21:43 – 21:50] and they were able to mobilize this savings from their businesses and then they became their own
[21:50 – 21:58] bankers but then that money will not be sufficient for them to engage in when they want to expand when
[21:58 – 22:10] they want to upgrade when they want to buy big equipment like for those in processing and so they had to go to the microfinance banks or other financial institutions to get those kinds of
[22:10 – 22:19] resources so i think coming together and then implementing each other and using the right tools is actually very it’s a brainer to getting women
[22:19 – 22:25] you know achieve some milestones for their businesses especially the women in agriculture
[22:26 – 22:33] at the grassroots level and you have to spread more information about all of this just like you
[22:33 – 22:42] said so many do not have access to the information and that makes um lots of men to you know hijack some of these um
[22:44 – 22:56] fundings initiatives that women should be benefiting from so i think we should be able to push out more information about um some of these things and and also get women to you know be in groups
[22:57 – 23:08] and make sure that they’re able to complement each other because if you if you’re in your network you should be able to have this information so i think it’s really advisable to encourage women to
[23:08 – 23:20] to join um communities so that they can have access to all of this information so well thank you for the work that you’re doing i really am very
[23:20 – 23:32] um should i say i’m very proud and appreciative of what you’ve been doing so because i feel like whenever i hear you talk it feels like i’ve experienced it myself i mean first-hand
[23:32 – 23:42] experience and it’s to your and your dedication to the sector so i also believe that there are some initiatives that you must have implemented maybe
[23:43 – 23:55] as an individual or as an organization so what i’m trying to say is maybe you can share some successful initiatives or programs that you’ve implemented i know you mentioned something around
[23:55 – 24:05] this but maybe you can just um expand it on it some of the programs you’ve implemented to support women in nigerian agriculture maybe through you or through your organization
[24:08 – 24:14] thank you very much and see our true my organization the media uh we have
[24:15 – 24:23] currently supported over 18 000 women in um providing them technical assistance in improving
[24:23 – 24:31] their uh processing you know the quality of the food products they process in getting nafdak
[24:31 – 24:38] registration and then meeting the standard organizations of nigeria regulation three
[24:38 – 24:50] standards for food you know for packaged foods so we’ve gotten them you know we build their capacity and then we’ve got them to do their business as usual but to up their game and to have their
[24:50 – 24:57] products in in supermarkets you know packaged you know with all these uh regulatory approvals to have
[24:57 – 25:05] them there so these are some of the things we’ve done to let these women see that business is beyond
[25:05 – 25:15] what they have known before and they can do better so in terms of technical assistance i will hear testimonies from these women like oh well you know i’m not going to be able to do this i’m not going to be able to do this i’m not going to be able to do this but i want to do this and i want to be able to do this
[25:15 – 25:26] i took my food like my rice to the market it gets sold off first before they start looking at others because the improved way of processing my rice has really made it to come out like
[25:26 – 25:33] the foreign rice you know and i would supported women with technologies like distance you know
[25:33 – 25:45] color saunters and all of those to ensure that they get good value for the uh the effort they’ve put into what they’re doing as a product and i don’t think that’s okay you know i don’t think that’s
[25:45 – 25:53] do. So that’s part of the work we do. We do capacity building, we do technology upgrade,
[25:53 – 25:59] we do technical assistance, and some I’d already mentioned, so I really don’t want to go back
[25:59 – 26:06] there. So on an individual basis, I know that no matter what development partners do, government,
[26:07 – 26:13] there is still more to be done. There is still more, much more to be done. So as an individual,
[26:13 – 26:23] I have on my own decided at a point to empower 50 women. It was a huge one for me, but
[26:23 – 26:32] I saw the need for that. Women who are very vulnerable and they cannot even afford to pay
[26:33 – 26:43] maybe a match to own an equipment. So out of my own savings and all, I had to give 50 women processes.
[26:43 – 26:55] So I had to give 50 women processing equipment for processing of products. And that was really, really satisfying for me to see that they never imagined they could own it. And then they woke
[26:55 – 27:08] up to it. So beyond what we do in the workspace with government, if there’s anything we can do as individuals, as women in agriculture, as women in that space to help another woman.
[27:08 – 27:19] And what I want to tell them is if you get this, support another woman that you are in a position to support her. And so let the cycle continue,
[27:19 – 27:25] let this support go. And then we’ll find that we have a community of women supporting women to get
[27:25 – 27:36] to that economic balance that we want to have to see women, you know, acting. So women supporting
[27:36 – 27:49] women, I think that is something that is dear to my heart. And I think that’s what I want to do. And I encourage them to continue and not break that cycle. Yeah.
[27:50 – 28:01] Thank you so much. You see why I say that you’re actually remarkable. But anyway, let me not start talking before people come and start billing you.
[28:04 – 28:13] Well, thank you so much for sharing. And I mean, really commendable what you do from your organization.
[28:13 – 28:19] And also as an individual, really, really amazing. I love to see what you do. I love to hear you talk
[28:19 – 28:27] about how you support women. I mean, it just gives me joy. So maybe eventually I’ll just have you on
[28:27 – 28:34] my women podcast so you can come share something more as well for more women to hear and see how
[28:34 – 28:43] we can always support ourselves. Thank you so much for joining this podcast. I really hope to have you here another time.
[28:43 – 28:55] Thank you so much. So guys, we have come to the end of today’s episode. I hope you learned something from this episode. I hope you really pick out something very meaningful from this
[28:55 – 29:07] episode. Because this is really packed. So don’t miss any of our episodes because you’re going to be getting beautiful, beautiful episodes from amazing top leaders in the industry.
[29:08 – 29:20] So what I’m going to say is if you’d like to get on the podcast, do be able to reach out to us. Our email is podcast at letstalkagriculture.com. And if you’d like to advertise your business or
[29:20 – 29:32] your brand on the podcast, do be able to reach out to us as well. Podcast at letstalkagriculture.com. You can wait to hear from me. Thank you so much, guys. You have a lovely time until we meet again.
[29:33 – 29:36] Cheers. I’m your host, Sharon Idahosa.


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