In sub-Saharan Africa, just 15% of landowners are women and they receive less than 10% of credit, 7% of extension services, and have less access to technologies compared to their male counterpart. Yet women farmers are just as efficient as men and would achieve the same yields if not higher if they had equal resources, according to research.
A year ago, I had an opportunity to speak at the African Union Summit held in South Africa. The major focus of this summit was on financial inclusion of women in the agribusiness sector, correcting misdirected policies, introducing new technologies, and putting critical strategies in place to achieve its mandate. It was encouraging to see a number of women in agriculture, young and old from different parts of Africa speak up about their challenges and offering recommendations to African leaders.
Studies argue that if women were empowered, fully supported, and had equal resources with men, they would boost the total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5% to 4% – enough to reduce the number of undernourished people in the world by between 100 and 150 million.
While there are still challenges in this sector in most parts of the continent, it is important that we acknowledge some of the positive efforts that are effecting change. Farm Africa has been successful in implementing women’s empowerment programmes in the various African countries they operate in.
One Acre Fund currently represents Africa’s largest network of smallholder farmers and estimates that by 2020 it will serve more than 1 million farm families, helping in excess of 5 million people. One Acre Fund operates in Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi and provides support to smallholder farmers by financing farm inputs, training on agricultural techniques and enabling them to access markets.
In South Africa, Pick n Pay Foundation links emerging farmers to its stores, giving them easier access to markets – an aspect that always poses a major challenge for many entrepreneurs.
Woolworths also runs an enterprise and supplier development program that engages with SMEs on the growth, productivity, governance, and operational sustainability of their businesses.
So, if you are in the Agribusiness sector, take note of these organizations and the other positive changes taking place in this sector.