The role that women play in the reduction of poverty and hunger through agriculture can in no way be ignored. According to the FAO, women comprise just over 40 percent of the agricultural labor force in the developing world and almost 50 percent in Africa. Although women’s participation in agriculture will remain high, their contribution to food production could increase if they are allowed equal access to essential resources and services. A recent FAO survey found that female farmers receive only 5 percent of all agricultural extension services worldwide.
The World Bank 2008 World Development Report presented empirical evidence from a wide range of countries to illustrate that the international development community has recognized the importance of agriculture as a solution to poverty and hunger in countries where mainly the poor engage in agriculture.
Granting women equal opportunities in agriculture will drastically contribute to food production worldwide. Thus there is need for urgent implementation of initiatives that will increase efficiency for women in food production. The Montpellier Panel, in fact, has called for “an urgent and transformative focus on the needs and perspectives of women in smallholder agricultural policy.”
The recommendations of the panel include identifying partners that can effectively link women farmers to markets, improving the availability of gender disaggregated data, and training and empowering women to participate in and lead agricultural research and policy development, among other things.
The implementation of these recommendations will ensure that women have equal access to opportunities in agriculture and most importantly, contribute towards the eradication of hunger and poverty on the African continent and the world over.
Read the full report by the Montpellier Panel on women in African agriculture.
Blogpost by Toluwani Adekunle, a social media reporter for AASW6.