Women farmers face challenges in Africa: Seeking gender equity in agriculture
The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture is a non-profit institution that generates agricultural innovations. Learn more at www.iita.org.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Women in Africa’s agriculture industry face unique challenges, said Aline Mugisho, executive manager of Innovative Youth in Agriculture at International Institute of Tropical Agriculture.
“When we think about African agriculture and food landscape, there are quite a few challenges that both women and youth face, which continues to limit the impact they can have on the sector and also their livelihoods,” she said.
Mugisho was a speaker at the Global Agriculture Innovation Forum during a session on women and youth entrepreneurship.
“The recent World Bank report stated that women farmers produce 30% less than their male counterparts, primarily because they have access to poorer inputs, poor quality land and limited support,” she explained.
There is a sense of urgency to address these issues, Mugisho said.
Mugisho outlined five major challenges faced by women in parts of Africa.
- Limited access to finance and credit facilities. The lack of capital and credit support makes it difficult for women farmers to buy quality seed and fertilizer, or even access farmland, which in turn reduces agricultural productivity.
- Limited access to production resources. Women have limited ownership and control over resources such as land, farm and farming inputs, livestock, and so forth. This influences their ability to develop and sustain agribusiness.
- Limited access to extension services, training and education. More women are uneducated or untrained on improved agricultural practices and financial literacy. They have limited access to extension services compared to their male counterparts.
- Low decision-making power about agricultural production. Women are influenced by culture, norms and tradition, which affects their decision-making authority in their family, communities and agribusinesses.
- Poor access to markets. Distribution, transportation and marketing of agricultural products are male-dominated and in some regions women are prohibited from going to the market. They are also pushed to the retail end, which often has lower margins.
“We need to ensure that women have access to assets, skills, inputs, finance — and that they can have mobility as they move up,” Mugisho said.
“One of our programs that I think is groundbreaking is called Advancing Local Dairy Development in Nigeria project. It’s really focused on gender equity and empowering female dairy farmers to achieve their highest potential.”