‘Closing Gender Gap In Agric Will Facilitate Economic Gains’

Closing the gender gap in agriculture will accelerate significant economic gains in developing countries, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has said.

Ms. Tacko Ndiaye, FAO Africa Region Senior Officer for Gender, Equality and Rural Development said, if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20 to 30 per cent.

This, she said could raise total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5 per cent to four per cent, which could in turn reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12 per cent to 17 per cent.

“Policy interventions can help close the gender gap in agriculture and labour markets,” Ms. Ndiaye stated in Accra in an interview with the Ghana News Agency before her departure for the Beijing Plus 20 Conference which ended in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, yesterday.

She pointed out that priority areas for policy reform include eliminating discrimination against women in access to agriculture resources especially land, education, extension and financial services and labour markets.

According to Ms. Ndiaye, gender responsive agricultural value chains and facilitating the participation of African women in flexible, efficient and fair rural labour markets and ensuring that rural women benefit from the pledge made by African heads of state to allocate 10 per cent of their national budget to agriculture were some of the priority areas.

Ms. Ndiaye said there was the need to mainstream gender in agriculture sector development especially along value chains which involves access to support services especially credit and financial services.

The Senior Officer said women make essential contributions to agricultural growth and transformation in Africa, adding that women were frontline nutrition caregivers for families and communities.

According to the FAO, women comprise 50 per cent of the agricultural labour force in Sub-Saharan Africa, while a 2014 World Bank report states that women’s labour contribution to crop production ranges from 24 per cent to 56 per cent in six countries, namely Ethiopia, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda.

She said agriculture plays a predominant role in promoting women’s empowerment, and women in Africa are bound to agriculture for their livelihoods and food security.

She observed that the Malabo declaration on “Accelerated Agricultural growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods”, adopted by the African Union Heads of States Summit in June, 2014, expressed concerns that significant proportion of Africa’s population still remains vulnerable to challenges of economic marginalisation, hunger and malnutrition, despite the positive achievements registered recently in agriculture and economic growth.

Ms. Ndiaye said the Malabo declaration reiterated the high level of political commitment to end “hunger and malnutrition”, and ensure through targeted and deliberate public support that all segments of population, particularly women, youth and other disadvantaged groups participate and directly benefit from the growth and transformation opportunities to improve their lives and livelihoods.

Nearly two decades ago at the Fourth World Conference on Women (1995), the 189 Member States of the United Nations adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

The declaration was a statement of the political commitment by governments to work towards equality between men and women with a special focus on women’s empowerment.

The Beijing Declaration called for commitment at the highest political level to support its implementation and urged governments to take the leading role in coordinating, monitoring and assessing progress in the advancement of women.


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