AfDB unveils plans to empower women in agric

•    Women make up almost 50 per cent of the agricultural labour force in Africa.

• Women make up almost 50 per cent of the agricultural labour force in Africa.

The African Development Bank (AfDB), has unveiled a new report to economically empower women giving them additional leverage to participate gainfully in the agricultural added value-chain.

The report dubbed: “Economic Empowerment of African women through equitable participation in agricultural value chains,” was produced by the office of the Special Envoy on Gender and the Department for Agriculture and Agro-industry of AfDB, which was launched at its headquarters in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

According to an AfDB statement issued at the weekend, high-level participants, including stakeholders from both the private and public sectors from the countries and sectors examined by the report in cocoa, coffee, cotton and cassava sectors in Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso and Nigeria, graced the occasion.

Agriculture in Africa is poised to remain one of the most important economic sectors, accounting for around 25 per cent of the continent’s gross domestic product. More than 60 per cent of its citizens rely on agriculture for some form of income.

Donald Kaberuka, outgoing President of AfDB said: “This report prepares the ground to empower women, to take a leading role in the business of farming and agricultural value chains, regionally and globally.”

“To transform the sector, the economic empowerment of women through boosting their productivity and raising their participation in commercial and higher value-add activities in agriculture is central,” he said.

Women make up almost 50 per cent of the agricultural labour force in Sub-Saharan Africa with a total of 62 per cent of economically active women in Africa working in the agricultural sector, making it the largest employer of women.

In some countries, such as Rwanda, Malawi and Burkina Faso, more than 90 per cent of economically active women are involved in agriculture.

“African women feed the continent and they can feed the world, too. But we must close the wide gap in wages and agricultural yields between men and women if Africa is to achieve full economic transformation,” Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, the AfDB’s Special Envoy on Gender said.

The report highlights five major constraints that could limit women’s productivity and full inclusion into the agricultural economy including lack of access to assets and to finance, limited training, gender-neutral government policy, and time constraints due to heavy domestic responsibilities.

It highlighted three broad areas for action that could begin to address the specific constraints women face in each focus country including growing the number of large-scale agribusiness entrepreneurs by providing access to financing and training, and improving regional and global market links.

The reoport indicated women are remunerated by setting them up as co-owners, improving productivity, and providing training in core business skills as well as increasing women’s access to niche markets by producing and marketing women-only products.

The role of women is largely limited to the unskilled parts of production: few own the land on which they work, they are rarely remunerated for their labour and often do not control the income generated from the sale of agricultural produce.

For example, in Cote d’Ivoire, the report estimates women account for 68 per cent of the labour in cocoa production, but receive only 21 per cent of the income. Similarly, in Ethiopia, women account for 75 per cent of the labour in coffee production and receive only 34 per cent of the income.

The report would help to identify areas that the AfDB and its partners could target to empower women economically through agriculture as the bank implements its gender strategy (2014-2018).

By Times Reporter

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