Women farmers may be the pillars of African agriculture and the African economy, but they would better placed to contribute to poverty eradication if they were given the right opportunities and mechanisms.
These were the opinions of Dr. Lindiwe Sibanda, director of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), as she spoke to an audience during the “Empowerment of women and youth for improved productivity” side event of the 6th FARA Africa Agriculture Science Week in Accra, Ghana. Dr. Sibanda notes that women are the guardians of food security in Africa, but they are still marginalized in business relations and have minimal control over access to resources such as land, improved seeds, fertilizer, credit and technology.
African countries need to create people who are equipped to combat the rising challenges of agriculture. “Empowerment of women in the agriculture sector would ensure policies, productivity and development that would move Africa a notch higher,” said Dr. Sibanda. “Their engagement is key to any substantial growth of an economy in the African continent.’’
Dr. Sibanda regretted that women farmers have no voice in the development of agricultural policies in Africa and that, what’s more, their rural counterparts have had to confront countless challenges whose solution lies in those very policies. She added, “We need to have women spearheading research in Africa because they are in a better position to break through cultural barriers.’’
Dr. Sibanda also challenged Africa to invest in impactful research and stop relying on global data, noting that much has been spent on research in Africa but little has been achieved. “Agricultural programmes and policies are rarely planned with women’s needs in mind. Women should be consulted directly on how Africa intends to fight poverty and hunger, because they know how to find solutions that will ensure the survival of humanity,’’ she observed.
She affirmed, furthermore, that networking with women and youth is mandatory for the development of Africa and will increase productivity, innovation and technology uptake. Dr. Sibanda urged Africa countries to make farming attractive and profitable to bring youth into the profession and lift the poor out of poverty.
“Youth in Africa are running away from Agriculture. Agriculture for youth is not about farming but engaging in value addition and innovation. Africa cannot expand without putting science first,’’ she concluded.
Blogpost by Grace Wekesa, a social media reporter for AASW6.
Photo: G. Wekesa