Aisha Abubakar, LCCI, others urge women to explore opportunities in agric value chain

Aisha Abubakar, national chairperson of NACCIMA Business Women Group (NAWORG), has urged women-led businesses in the agriculture sector to position themselves for the opportunities in the nation’s agricultural value chain. She made the suggestion at the Nigerian International Women Entrepreneur Exhibition (NIWEX 2022) held at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Alausa Ikeja, Lagos State, Nigeria’s commercial capital, from October 21 to 23, 2022.

NIWEX is an annual event organised by the women’s wing of the National Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Mines and Agriculture(NACCIMA). The first edition took place in 2010 with some editions attended by exhibitors from African countries.

This year’s fair and exhibition had the theme “Encouraging Women in Agriculture and Made in Nigeria Products for Economic Growth,” and was organised in collaboration with the Lagos State Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives.

In attendance were the national president of NACCIMA, Ide John Chinyelu Udeagbala, represented by Kola Akosile; Michael Olawale Cole, president, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry(LCCI), represented by Ladi Smith; Olusola Opadimu, director general of NACCIMA; Felicia Adeojo, NACCIMA Women Business Group; Oluwayimika Olumiluwa, coordinator, ODUACCIMA; Samuel Oyeyipo of the Nigeria Export Promotion Council(NEPC) represented by Alice Ibiloye, and Stella Igbekele Akande, NIWEX 2022 committee chairperson and coordinator, Lagos State.

Others include Helen Tabunor Ogedegbe, Lagos sub-committee chairperson; Adetutu Oluremi Ososanya, permanent secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture; Osiefa Adebayo, from the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture; Omolabake Bashirudeen, from the Lagos State Ministry of Commerce and Cooperatives, and Kofo Adetomiwa who represented the United Bank for Africa(UBA).

On the relevance of NIWEX 2022, Abubakar said that the fair was an annual event meant for trade exhibition and the promotion of made in Nigeria products.

“This year’s programme is meant to emphasise the relevance of agriculture and to showcase made in Nigeria goods. We keep saying we should look inward. Today, the products on display at this fair were made by Nigerian women and they all came straight from the farm,” Aisha Abubakar said.

“We want everyone who is interested in moving the Nigerian economy forward to patronise the products made by our Nigerian women so as to encourage them to play a greater role in the nation’s agricultural value chain,” she added.

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On the milestone of past events, Abubakar said a lot of Nigerian women had more access to markets, better funding, capacity training programmes, and networking opportunities. In addition, some women entrepreneurs had the chance to showcase their products in foreign exhibitions which were made possible through NACCIMA Women Business Group.

Kola Akosile said the proportion of women in Nigeria’s population is significant to be ignored, emphasising the need to further empower them in order to enhance their productivity.

“Women constitute up to 70 percent of the agricultural workforce. But unfortunately, women are not in the active sections of the agricultural value chain. They are not in seed production, processing, aggregation and logistics,” Akosile said.

In comparison to men, women lack access to agricultural technologies and control of the means of production, including opportunities according to Adetutu Oluremi Ososanya, permanent secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture.

“Little actions have been taken for women to engage in meaningful production in the agriculture sector, improve their livelihood, enhance food security, build their community resilience against climate change, among others,” Ososanya said.

On the support provided by the Nigeria Export Promotion Council, Alice Ibiloye said the organisation was created to support the development of export-oriented industries in the country and that NEPC was willing to support Nigerian women for them to break through the numerous barriers to foreign trade.

Ladi Smith, elaborated on the contribution of chambers of commerce across the country, and in particular, the chamber movement in Nigeria is reputed for trade promotion through trade fairs and exhibitions.

“This exhibition is meant to promote women entrepreneurs. Across the world, women-oriented programmes have gained tremendous recognition from local and international development finance institutions to build capacities of women entrepreneurs towards exploring exclusive programmes that will make them stay ahead in their respective sectors,” Smith said.

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