By Iyakale Yakubu
Jos (Nigeria) — About 600 women in Plateau State, north central Nigeria have received training on coriander cultivation and other farming methods to boost food production in the region. Coriander is a plant with leaves and seeds that can be added to food to give a special flavour.
A Non-Governmental Organisation, Green Sahara Farms said it conducted the training last year, designed to empower the women, and make Plateau the Hub of spices and herbs in Nigeria.
Executive Chairman of the organisation, Suleiman Dikwa, told Plateau State Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs Rofina Gurumyen, in Jos, that “We brought them (the women) in to benefit from the privileges the large scale commercial farmers were accorded.
Dikwa said the women were also trained on best farming practices, group dynamics, rural financing, account and financial management in the first phase of the project.
He said after the training, the women increased their cultivation of coriander plants.
Dikwa said prior to the training, most of the women had been cultivating lands for more than 30 years, but their economic status still remained the same.
“Farmers do not have problem of what to produce, but their major concern is how to market such goods, we market their products as a group to spice companies that used to import their products.
“Spices are widely used in our homes, everybody uses thyme, curry, rosemary, celery and others everyday as spice in our meals,’’ he explained.
He said with the current policy of the government, power has been given to farmers to partake in the development of food processing and other Agro allied companies.
He said the programme was being coordinated by Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation in Nigeria (SWOFON) with 18,000 members in Plateau and one million members in Nigeria.
According to him, the region is blessed with natural resources such as land and water for cultivation.
Dikwa noted that only the support of government was needed in training women in these skills, as a source of livelihood and business venture, which would improve their standard of living.
In her remarks, the Commissioner for Women Affairs said the visit was coming at a time when Nigerians were being encouraged to look inwards on ways to boost the country’s economy.
Gurumyen acknowledged the efforts of the organisation and pledged government’s commitment to support women who were the major sustainers of the home.
The commissioner implored the organisation to take their training to the hinterlands where women are under-skilled in such cultivation.
She also urged the organisation to ensure that the products produced by the women were marketed, to further encourage them to cultivate more hectares of land and improve on their status.