Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Women Farmers: Agents of Economic Growth

In many developing nations, agriculture has been identified as a crucial sector for poverty reduction efforts. Women farmers account for 60 to 80 percent of food crops produced; yet the active role that they play in agricultural production around the world continues to be overlooked. As the global economic crisis deepens, countries continue to search for new ways to expand their economies. Now is an ideal time to support women farmers’ efforts and capitalize on this untapped economic resource as a way to expand the economy and lift people out of poverty.

In order to scale up agricultural production, efforts should be made to understand the unique challenges women face in the larger policy and trade arena. At the program level, gender components need to be integrated in the design phase rather than considered “add”-on components. Incorporating gender in the design phase of projects will stimulate a necessary shift in they way the development community views the role of women farmers and will hopefully stimulate a clear plan of action and concrete recommendations for further improvements.

There is also much to be gained through better facilitation of women’s access to credit, land, and technology. As women are more likely to spend their income on the well being of their families, providing more targeted training including technical assistance, financing opportunities, and better inputs such as seeds and fertilizers not only has a direct impact on agricultural production but also on improved livelihoods for producer communities