Women are revolutionising African agriculture and contributing to efficiency leap

April 23, 2024

Across Africa, women are the backbone of the agricultural sector. Despite facing significant challenges, they play a critical role in food production, contributing an estimated 50% of the labour force (World Bank, 2022). However, their immense potential remains largely untapped due to limited access to resources, education, and decision-making power. By empowering women in African agriculture, the food industry can unlock a wave of innovation, efficiency gains, and sustainable practices.

Untapped potential and pressing challenges

While women are the driving force behind agricultural activities in many African countries, they often lack secure land ownership, access to credit, and training opportunities. This limits their ability to invest in new technologies, improve yields, and secure fair prices for their crops. Traditional social norms can further restrict their participation in agricultural decision-making and leadership roles.

Investing in women: Reaping tangible benefits

Empowering women in agriculture isn’t just a question of social justice; it’s also sound economic investment. Studies by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) show that closing the gender gap in agriculture could increase overall agricultural output in Sub-Saharan Africa by 26% (IFPRI, 2014). This translates to a significant boost in food security, poverty reduction, and economic growth across the continent.

Key strategies for empowering women in African agriculture

There are several key strategies that food industry professionals can champion to empower women in African agriculture:

  • Supporting land rights and access to resources: This includes advocating for legal reforms that guarantee women’s ownership of land and provide them with secure access to essential resources like water, seeds, and fertilisers.
  • Financial inclusion: Promoting financial products and services tailored to women’s needs, such as microloans with flexible repayment options and training programmes on financial literacy.
  • Education and training: Investing in training programmes that equip women with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in agriculture. This can include training on new farming techniques, post-harvest handling, and market access strategies.
  • Building networks and leadership: Supporting the creation of women’s farmer cooperatives and associations. These provide a platform for knowledge sharing, collective bargaining, and leadership development.
  • Technology for women: Promoting the adoption of new agricultural technologies that are designed with women in mind, such as labour-saving tools and mobile applications that provide real-time information on market prices and weather patterns.

The Future of African agriculture: A collaborative effort

By working together, governments, food industry players, NGOs, and research institutions can create an enabling environment for women to thrive in African agriculture. This collaborative effort could not only empower women but also unlock the full potential of the agricultural sector, leading to a more prosperous and food-secure future for Africa.


Photo: Annie Spratt for Unsplash

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