Following a series of engagements between ECID and the Ministry of Agriculture in Anambra State, essential support has commenced for poor rural farmers in hard-to-reach areas.
ECID partner Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) are assisting farmers in Ayamelum and Ogbaru Local Government Areas (LGA) to access agricultural loans, grants and farm subsidies provided by the State’s Ministry of Agriculture thereby addressing a key concern of poor rural women in these areas.
The lack of access to agricultural support was identified as a priority development issue by marginalised groups, especially by poor rural women in the target LGAs during ECID’s baseline survey and re-confirmed during the issue identification and prioritisation activities conducted among marginalised groups.
Although the State government regularly provides such support for farmers, poor farmers living in rural, hard-to-reach locations have remained excluded and therefore unable to improve their agricultural outputs and consequently their income due to their inability to register on the Ministry’s e-portal. According to the Ministry, only those who are registered on the portal can have access to the support provided, including agricultural grants to improve the outputs of their farming activities. This policy, while laudable, as it was put in place to ensure that the process and system is properly streamlined, it did not take into consideration the reality of all groups of farmers such as those in hard-to-reach locations, who cannot afford to transport themselves to the Local Government Council Headquarters to register. ECID’s qualitative assessment of the issue revealed barriers to access to agricultural support as the inability to register on the e-portal due to financial and distance constraints.
As part of its efforts to facilitate more effective policies and decisions, especially for the benefit of the poorest and most marginalised, the ECID programme, through its partners in Anambra State, Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) Onitsha and Hope Givers Initiative (HOG-I), have successfully engaged with the Ministry using the perspectives garnered from these excluded groups as evidence for an adaptation in the implementation of the policy. The adaptation seeks to facilitate better access to loans and subsidized farm inputs for these groups by collaborating with the Ministry to make the registration on the e-portal more accessible to farmers in hard-to-reach locations.
Two practical solutions have been agreed on and committed to:
– community outreaches by the Ministry to register farmers and
– provision of more accessible points of registration.
This collaboration and commitment came because of the series of engagements with the Ministry, including an advocacy visit to present the issues and agree on ways forward, as well as the Ministry’s participation and dialogue with members of the public through the ECID radio programme.
Both solutions are supported by the ECID partners through the provision of logistics support to ensure a smooth process, and the programme will continue to engage with the Ministry to ensure that these solutions for improved access are adopted permanently.
This provides a key example of how evidence and the reality of affected groups should be used for policy and decision-making.