The diverse obstacles to African agricultural growth generally include poor infrastructure, limited fertilizer use, lack of access to extension services and markets, weak utilization of technology and inputs and poor land security. However, women farmers fare worse than their male counter parts. They do not receive equal investment, inputs, training or support unlike the male farmers.
The yield gap between men and women farmers presently averages around 20 -30% most due to differences in resource use. Empowerment of female farmers is therefore important for equity and fairness. Empowerment of women farmers should aid them to make decision about agricultural production, give them access to decision making power about productive resources, aid them to control use of income, develop leadership skill and manage time properly according to Alkire, 2013. Given equal access to resources as men, women could achieve the same yields, which will lead to a boost in total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5 – 4 %. According to FAO (2014a), this additional yield will equally reduce the number of undernourished people in the world by 100-150 m or 12 – 17% . Furthermore, empowering and investing in rural women has been shown to significantly increase productivity, reduce hunger and malnutrition and improve rural livelihoods. And not only for women, but for children and everyone.
I was therefore happy to train (along with my colleagues at Durban University of Technology, South Africa) agricultural extension and value addition officers from Department of Agricultural, Kwazulu Natal South Africa on principles of food science and technology last week.
Alkire, S., (2013). The Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index. World Development 52, 71 -91
FAO (2014a).The Female Face of Farming.
http://www.fao.org/gender/infographic/en/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social+media&utm_campaign=FAOnews&utm_content=ac. Accessed March 27, 2014