Empowering women with climate-smart varieties

A woman farmer in her groundnut field, Wakor village, Mali. Climate-smart groundnut varieties are helping women adapt to a variable climate.

A woman farmer in her groundnut field, Wakor village, Mali. Climate-smart groundnut varieties are helping women adapt to a variable climate.

Climate variability has made many producers change the way they manage their crops and livestock. At the  the 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week  organized by FARA, a focus has been placed on empowering women and youth for improved productivity and resilience in African agriculture. The theme is a crucial one with regard to the vulnerability of the two groups, in addition to their contribution to agricultural production, processing and marketing, of a staple crop over much of Africa: groundnut.

Groundnut contributes to up to 64% of household cash revenue in Mali, 66% in Niger and 54% in Nigeria. Women’s role in the production of groundnut is essential.

With this fact in mind, ICRISAT is joining with a range of partners, including public institutions and NGOs, to empower women either individually or in groups to access climate-smart varieties of groundnut varieties. They include short-duration, variable rainfall tolerant, drought tolerant, aflatoxin tolerant, and foliar disease resistant varieties. These important traits help alleviate major constraints to groundnut productivity and quality, many of which are likely to be aggravated by climate change.

These activities have resulted in new groundnut varieties being tested in Mali (of which 9 are short duration and drought tolerant, 5 resistant to foliar diseases and 8 tolerant to aflatoxin contamination) in 40 villages, involving 1,450 farmers (85% women). The most promising lines were selected by farmers themselves, in an encouraging example of farmer involvement in the investigative process.

In Mali, a women’s association has been linked to local private seed distribution and training for certification in seed selling. Women’s groups have been trained in good practices for producing and selling quality seed. Similar capacity building activities have been conducted in Niger: women seed and grain producers have been assisted with animals and ploughs and women processors have been assisted with small scale oil extraction machines to reduce the drudgery associated with groundnut production and processing.

Blogpost by Agathe Diama, a social media reporter for AASW6.

Photo: ICRISAT

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