18.09.2012 |

Call for African Farming Strategies to Focus on Women

Sub Saharan women farmers (Photo: The Montpellier Panel)
Sub Saharan women farmers (Photo: The Montpellier Panel)

A briefing paper, entitled 'Women in African agriculture: farmers, mothers, innovators and educators’, was released on 17th September by London’s Imperial College, Montpellier Panel. The paper calls for urgent action to address the needs and perspectives of women in smallholder agricultural policy in sub-Saharan Africa. The Panel highlighted the fact that although women play crucial roles throughout the value chain as farmers and business women, large numbers of the poorest, most disadvantaged and marginalised people in sub-Saharan Africa are women and some of the poorest households are headed by women. The paper also illustrates how national agricultural policies often assume farmers are mostly men, even though, according to the FAO, women in some African countries spend up to 60% of their time on agricultural activities. Women farmers also contribute up to 50% of labour on farms in sub-Saharan Africa and more than 60% of employed women in sub-Saharan Africa work in agriculture. The paper therefore suggests that developing policies that focus on the needs of African women is an economic imperative as there is a major global gender gap in agriculture, which translates into a costly lost opportunity to improve the quality and quantity of the world's food supply. The paper argues that if women had the same access to, and control over productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20 to 30%. This could raise total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5 to 4%, which could in turn reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12 to 17% (100-150 million). As the Montpellier Panel underlines, reaching and including women in agricultural policy in Africa will require a substantially different approach by African national governments and the European governments that wish to work with them.

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Donors of globalagriculture Bread for all biovision Bread for the World Misereor Heidehof Stiftung Hilfswerk der Evangelischen Kirchen Schweiz Rapunzel
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