Appropriate farming tools for African women farmers

| April 11, 2021

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Our Farmer story from Ghana highlights women farmers who are eagerly adopting new practices. Women who want to succeed with farming face a variety of challenges, including poor access to land and training. Another barrier is that farming tools are often not designed with women in mind. This is the issue that our Script of the Week considers.

The economic status of African women farmers strongly influences the type of tools they use and the way they use those tools. Women typically do not receive very much income from their farming activities, so it is difficult for them to buy agricultural tools and access transport.

In some areas, men are increasingly migrating to urban centres because of perceived job opportunities. Conflicts and wars also take men away from their families. In all these circumstances, women and children are left on their own to carry out the family tasks, including most if not all farm work. Money sent back home to women farmers is often not enough for them to purchase new tools and other agricultural inputs in addition to meeting other needs in the family such as school fees and medicine.

A recent study in five African countries – Burkina Faso, Senegal, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe – showed that specific cultural factors also have a direct impact on African women farmers’ choice of tools and the overall conditions of their farm work. It was also discovered that some solutions clash with religious beliefs, taboos, and traditional community attitudes.

In this short drama, a village elder, a blacksmith, a male farmer, and a woman farmer meet at a village square to discuss the conditions and cultural factors that impact on African women farmers’ choice of farming tools and techniques.