Dr (Mrs) Ladi Shambo is the MD of Dijmeds Ventures Limited, a company that is into food processing and Shea butter processing.
After her retirement from the civil service, she decided to start producing spices.
“I produce ginger powder, garlic powder, chili pepper and mixed spice (‘yaji’) and ‘garin danwake’. These products have NAFDAC number and are in the market.
“When we realized the use of Shea butter, I decided to add value to it. I am the first woman to start Shea butter cosmetic business in Nigeria. I started with four products; 100% Shea butter, Shea butter herbal soap andShea butter soap and hair cream. Today, I have about 25 products made of Shea butter.”
However, Shambo says the main challenge she faces in the business is access to finance. She noted that demand is getting high but she cannot meet up with the supply.
“All businesses run by women in this country the challenges they face is finance.
The chemicals are so expensive, especially the essential oils, so I find it difficult to cope,” she lamented.
Speaking on expansion, she said she needs a bigger factory but does not have the means of achieving that.
“I have taken my products to more than eight countries but expansion is the challenge,” she said.
Another thing she highlighted is that the interest rate on loans is too high. She urged that women should be given loan with one digit interest rate.
“It is only one per cent of women that have benefitted from all these loans they are propagating in the media,” she said.
She said women find it difficult to access loans because of lack of collateral.
Malama Kyauta Alhaji, is a women leader at Garun Malam Local Government Area of Kano State. She recently won award for her outstanding performance at the SARD-SC wheat conference that took place in Abuja. She farms wheat, rice and tomato.
“We have been into wheat production for long; it is what my parents do. I have been growing wheat on my farm for the past 10 years. The last four years, however, have been the best because we entered into partnership with SARD-SC programme on wheat and it has been fruitful.
They trained us on best agronomic practices, especially on how to achieve higher yields than was obtainable before, including different forms of assistance to achieve that,” she explained.
Kyauta has about seven and half acres of land which she farms and acknowledges tremendous success due to good seeds.
“We didn’t get good seeds before, but with the partnership with SARD-SC, we now have improved and higher yielding varieties. We used to have about 17 bags of wheat from one acre, but we now have between 22 and 25 bags per acre.”
However, the success of Kyauta Alhaji’s farm is not without challenge. “My greatest challenge in wheat production is that on my farm I do not have a good drainage system. Another thing is that sometimes there is wheat glut in the market and we have no option than to sell at very cheap price.
We buy the seeds for planting at between N30,000 and N40,000, but a bag of wheat may sell for N14,000 to N15,000.”
The National President, Nigerian Women Agro Allied Farmers Association, Mrs Lizzy N. Igbine, is also the CEO, Farm Pride Organic Fertilizers Ltd.
She has been into farming cassava and sweet potatoes for over 10 years. Her company produces organic fertiliser commercially as well.
However, Igbine says she faces the following challenges. “The problem we have is the low scale of our agriculture. At our level, the land is small, investments are low and the profits are low too.
“If investments are made into agriculture, it will extend to the farmers. Farmers will have more land, farmers will have access to loan, and they will produce more.
“The first challenge is marginalisation, because we do not have access to land.Traditionally, in Africa, when men are sharing land they didn’t give the women, so if a woman is a farmer you are farming under your husband or you rent a piece of land, or you buy land.
“Secondly, access to loan is a problem because we do not have collateral, and we don’t really look at agriculture as profitable because of the small volume that we do.
“Government should mechanise farming,” she said.
On the issue of access to land for women, a business development consultant with focus on MSMEs, Mr Ahmed Yusuf, said there is a problem with land optimisation in Nigeria.
“Everybody wants to own 10 hectares or more but, if you go to other countries, they are doing strategic farming were one hectare can be shared into acres so they plant similar items, that way farming becomes very easy. They share resources and they are able to grow and have variety of produce. Somebody can get five times output. So it is scientific farming,” he said.
On funds, Yusuf said the proposed development bank that the government is setting up should give long-term loans to MSMEs.
“CBN is setting up the Development Bank of Nigeria.We believe that it should be able to provide long term funds. What happens in small scale businesses is that they don’t need short term loan, they need longer term money. Because if you give them N100,000 or even N500,000,for instance to buy the Shea butter nuts from the market, if they buy it , process it and sell it and pay back the loan, next year, they won’t have the money to continue the business.
“So what they need is when you give them N500,000 they will pay you in five years, from the profit they make, they can buy more and establish the business,” Yusuf said.
On ownership of land by women, the immediate past president of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) and Country Director of IPAS, Barr Hauwa Shekarau said there is no law that discriminates against a woman owning land or property in Nigeria hence women have equal rights as men to own land in the constitution. As a result of this, “Any woman that is being discriminated on/stopped from owning land/property can challenge it in court,” Shekarau said.
On the issue of good seeds and farming inputs, the President of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Engineer Kabir Ibrahim, said with government intervention people are getting for very good seeds and embracing technology. Also, fertiliser is being made available so all the parameters to increase production are in place.
The Director of Farm Input Supply at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Engineer Ohiari Badmus Jatto, however attributed the delay in early supply of farm inputs to delay in budget passage and the huge debts owed agro-dealers.
Similarly, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, while speaking at the National Cooperative Financing Agency of Nigeria (CFAN) summit held in Abuja recently, said his ministry will help women and co-operatives to access the N220 million CBN Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) funds.
The minister, who was represented by the Director of Agribusiness in the ministry, Alhaji Azeez Muyiwa, said 60% of the fund is dedicated to women and that the loans can be gotten at 10 percent interest rate.
File pics: Taiwo Adeniyi