The second edition of the Arahah Farmers Market in 2021, held on Saturday 27th March 2021 at the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry complex. This month’s edition was unique as it was one event marking the end of the one month celebrations of the International Women’s Day in Nigeria. It was also unique in the sense that it was the first Arahah Farmer’s Market graced by the Honouable Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen OFR KSG.
Other dignitaries at the market were the representative of the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs Dr Anthonia Akpabio, the newly inaugurated President of the Abuja Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Dr Al-Mujtaba, the Director General, ACCI Ms. Vicky Akai, the Vice President Agriculture ACCI and the Vice President Women Development of the ACCI. Others are members of the Ministerial Technical Committee on Private Sector, the Chair of the Committee and Convener of WADHI, Ms Esther Eghobamien-Mshelia, as well as the Chair, Economic Empowerment Sub-Committee, representatives of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, department of Commodity and Export under the GICED Initiative of the Ministry as well as the Director, Business Development, NEXIM Bank, Ms. Stella Uko-Ettete.
MATTERS ARISING FROM THE SPECIAL EDITION OF ARAHAH MARKET.
Speaking the President of the Abuja Chambers of Commerce and Industry said, the Education of the woman is key to eliminating the Almajare system in Nigeria. He pledged the support of himself and his Executive Committee to the Market.
The Vice President Agriculture, Abuja Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said the Farmers Market Initiative is in line with the focus of the ACCI under it’s Agricultural plan. He stressed that the Chamber will provide Transport Facility that will bring women farmers & entrepreneurs from their farms to the market and thus improve their income. He also maintained that the Chambers will give all the facilities required to move the market forward and also help with pricing. That the Market will cover the surrounding regions, so that what they are farming or producing can be brought to the market.
The Convener WADHI and Chair of the Ministerial Technical Committee, Ms Esther Mshelia, said the Arahah Market is anchored by the Economic Empowerment Committee and aimed to enable us know better the challenges women face in the Market place and the need to connect women to the global market. That Nigerian women we’re not visible at the Commonwealth market which hosted over a thousand buyers and sellers last year. Therefore the Arahah Market will serve as a grooming and capacity building ground for MSMEs especially women.
Rev Tina Bawa, who stood in for the chair, Sub-Committee Economic Empowerment, highlighted the need to connect women to the virtual market, so as to break the monopoly of middlemen and exploitative off-takers
The representative of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and head, GI CEDI, said the Ministry has signed an MOU with the Women Arise Development Initiative (WADHI) who are serving as consultant on this project. She commended the Consultant for building the capacity of women and for carrying women along.
The Head, Business Development, Nexim Bank. Said that, women participate in all processes of export but are not found at the aggregation or direct export stage. That the bank has developed a women and youth export Facility to encourage more women aggregators and exporters. She said the facility is at a single digit currently until February 2022 when it will go back to 9% interest rate. To address some of the issues with collateral, the facility is opened to cooperatives and women owed associations involved in export.
To strengthen their collective pull, women can create an alternative financial security by registering their moveable assets like jewelries with the collateral registry and get the certificate to access financial capital from the bank. She said there is also the warehousing arrangement, especially for commodity traders, where the bank lay hold on stock and pay discounts upon export payment. With all these structures, she said women have little or no excuse to give in the area of accessing finance. She reiterated that the present administration has empowered women in the financial sector.
She noted that the Minister of Finance is a woman and we have over five women who are chairmen and Members of Boards of Commercial Banks. We also have women on board every financial development institution in Nigeria. Hence, the need for a dialogue session with all-female Managers, Chairmen or Directors of Commercial and Development Banks to have structures that will encourage women to have direct and cheap access to finance. She reiterated the support and need to stop Police roadblocks on Market days as this practice affects prices of commodities due to financial demand on them by the Police. Thus, the Police should provide security for our market women at no cost as they are also agents of the government.
The Director-General of the Abuja Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Vicky Akia, said that at the ACCI, women have very strong support from Men. That the Management of the Centre has three women and two men. Highlighting the four centres of ACCI, as Business Entrepreneurship Skills and Technology, Abuja Trade Centre, Policy Advocacy Centre and the Dispute Resolution Centre. She enjoined all women to come on board ACCI as we need women to talk to us and give us feedback that will help us support them. That ACCI carries out business Match-Making and as a policy encourages 50% women participation. We are also working with the women to tune down the price in the market.
The Honourable Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, commended the President ACCI and his Executive Committee for the support it has given to the MTC-PS, the Arahah Farmers Market and Women in general. That he is indeed a great Champion for women. She promised to come back to decorate him as a true HeforShe under the global project to recognize male champions of women’s advancement. She appreciated all partners and women present at the market. Indeed she said women need encouragement, finance and soft loans to boost their businesses.
Giving the vote of thanks, the Permanent Secretary ably Represented by the Director Women Affairs, Mrs Funke Oladipo, commended all partners and women present at the market. She reassured everyone of the Ministry’s support of the Market Initiative.
The event ended with a tour of the Market stall by the Honourable Minister and her entourage accompanied by the President ACCI, guests and organizing team. On a charitable note and to the delight of all, the HM bought all the produce of the lady farmer whose basket of tomatoes had been almost totally destroyed when it fell of the Keke transport used to bring her goods to the market.