Women are essential contributors to agriculture around the world. In developing countries, women make up approximately 40 per cent of the agricultural labour force. Yet women often have less access than men to necessary resources, services, time, and markets, hindering their productivity.
In Nigeria, According to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development, women account for 75
per cent of the farming population, working as farm managers, and suppliers of labour.
Though women constitute a large portion
of the farming population, women’s possibilities in agriculture are hindered by formal and traditional rules that place women at a disadvantage.
Until recently, the topic of women in agriculture has mainly been viewed as a gender rights issue. Today, the economic argument for closing the gender gap is clear and undisputed.
Gender equality makes good business sense.
A report published by the FAO points to four policy changes that must be made to promote gender equality in global food and agriculture systems: (a) eliminate outright discrimination under the law, (b) promote equal access to resources and opportunities, such as land, tools and training, (c) ensure that agricultural policies and programs take into account differences between men and women, (d) ensure that women are equal participants in discussions about sustainable agricultural development.
Across the globe, women make up a large part of agricultural labour: In Sub-Saharan Africa in 2015, they represented 40% of the agricultural labour force. In some developing countries, their contributions exceed 50%. Closing the gender gap could increase yields on women-run farms by 20-30%. This could raise total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5- 4%.
But women own fewer assets (land, livestock, human capital), and have less access to inputs (seeds, fertilizer, labour, finance) and services (training, insurance,) than men. To further complicate things, equal access to resources does not guarantee equal returns for women farmers. Women need specialized agricultural training, child care and customized support to ease their double workload as farmers and caregivers. The right resources could help rural women maximize economic opportunities, increase productivity, and improve food security, education and healthcare, since women tend to reinvest in their households.
How Can Opportunities be Created to Encourage and Sustain more Women in Agriculture?
Expand women’s access to land and rural finance: Providing women with greater access to land, finance, and production inputs is critical to closing the productivity gap between men and women. Microfinance institutions and other financial service providers with presence in rural areas can play a key role in supporting women farmers. The Bank also ensures that women benefit from land titling projects.
Link women to agricultural value chains: When women are linked to agricultural value chains from production all the way to processing and marketing, they help make traditional farming more productive and commercially viable. Inclusive value chains also offer work opportunities for women and men off the farm.
Improve rural women’s access to training and information: Knowledge of farming techniques is critical to productivity, however women farmers have inadequate access to agricultural extension and training services. It is also important that training and agricultural technologies are accessible and adapted to rural women’s needs and constraints.
Produce Knowledge, Data and Tools that Promote Gender Equality in Agriculture and Food Sector Projects: The Bank produces resources that help practitioners integrate gender-sensitive actions in their projects. This includes the Gender in Agriculture Sourcebook and e-learning courses.
The Major Constraint to women in Agriculture is that they have little knowledge about best management practices. There is need to eliminate gender based discriminations, furthermore, agricultural programmes and policies should be gender aware and equal access to resources must be provided not only to promote agricultural development but also to provide food security to everyone. Sustainable agriculture is possible only when women become the key agents of change and participate actively in agricultural operations.