admin | May 7, 2018
Joyce Lali is a 45-year-old mother of seven from Erri village in northern Tanzania, and the secretary of the Erri Jigegemee Beekeeping Group. Mrs. Lali says producing and selling honey has changed her role in the community, and her ability to provide for her children.
She explains: “Previously, as a woman, if I needed anything, even something really small, I had to request it from my husband. Now, I have my own money and I can buy the things I need myself.” She uses the income from beekeeping to pay her children’s school fees.
A coalition of agricultural organizations called Farming First says women farmers like Mrs. Lali as well as women agricultural researchers and entrepreneurs are not receiving the attention they deserve despite their great contribution to agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa.
The coalition launched a social media campaign in March 2018, aimed at exposing the gender gaps in agriculture.
Yvonne Harz-Pitre is co-chair of Farming First. She explains: “We wanted to start a conversation about whether the gender gaps in agriculture still exist. It is a fact that women farmers still grow less [food] than men, so we asked the question, what specifically is it they cannot do?”
She says the gap has nothing to do with women’s abilities, but rather the opportunity to access tools and training.
Mrs. Harz-Pitre says that in Nigeria and Kenya, for example, only 30% of agricultural scientists are women, despite women being key to the rural economy.
She says that, because women farmers do not have equal access to the resources and services they need, they grow on average 20-30% less food than men, resulting in more people going hungry unnecessarily.
She says empowering and investing in women has shown significant increases in yields, not only for women like Mrs. Lali but also for their families and communities.
The feedback from the coalition’s online campaign attributed these gender gaps to women’s lack of access to tools, training, and information, which results in reduced agricultural output and economic growth.
Lindiwe Majele Sibanda is vice-president for country support, policy, and delivery at the Kenya-based Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, or AGRA. She says that empowering women could cause a domino effect in African communities because, if a woman is more productive, she will spend her increased income on her children’s education, health, and nutrition.
Jemimah Njuki is a Kenya-based food security and gender expert working with the International Development Research Centre. She says part of the problem is that women do most of the care work at home.
She wants governments to pass laws that ensure women have equal access to land, inputs, seeds, extension and financial services, post-harvest facilities, and markets.
Dr. Njuki says, “Inasmuch as women may have the same resources as men, there will still be a productivity gap mainly because of gender and social norms that create barriers for women.”
This story was adapted from an article titled “Gender gaps in agriculture explored via social media” published by SciDev.Net at the following address: https://www.scidev.net/sub-saharan-africa/gender/news/gender-gaps-agriculture-explored-social-media.html, with additional files from Farming First: https://farmingfirst.org/gender-gap
Photo: (L to R) Anyandwile Balile, Rehema Maulid, Grina George, Enita Malild and Agnes Mwasenga all listen to Michael Matambi, the Crop Officer with the Mbeya District Council, Tanzania, discuss different types of problems with their soybeans. Credit: IDRC/Bartay