Does gender affect how farmers use rural advisory services?

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In an article recently published in The Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension, CABI authors set out to discover more about gender differences in access to rural agricultural information. The research was undertaken in Pakistan and found major gender differences regarding use and preference of agricultural information in relation age and literacy.

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Fostering knowledge and confidence to feed more

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Valli Kupuswamy with her grand-daughter, Pouvisha, in their kitchen. Photo: Sanjit Das/Panos

Globally, an estimated 815 million people go hungry each day. Without access to healthy food, they are chronically undernourished. Meanwhile, in spite of advances in agricultural technology, approximately 40% of the food grown annually in rural communities is lost to pests and diseases. People living with persistent hunger need and deserve a sustainable solution based on self-reliance. Reducing the losses caused by plant health problems by just 1% could mean feeding millions more.

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Empoderamiento de la mujer a través de las clínicas de planta del Perú

Autor: Eduardo Augusto Neves
Reconocimiento a: Marieta Cervantes y Fernando Escobal, INIA Baños del Inca

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Ing. Marieta Eliana Cervantes Peralta, doctora de plantas de la estación experimental de INIA ‘Baños del Inca’ en Cajamarca, Perú, conoce bien la realidad de las mujeres rurales. Hija de campesinos, vivió su niñez y adolescencia en una comunidad rural de la provincia de La Unión, al sur de Perú. Su familia era consciente de la necesidad de invertir en su educación. Una chica que ingresa a la universidad para estudiar agricultura era algo excepcional en su comunidad.

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Why intersectionality is key to women’s empowerment in agriculture

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Women play a critical and potentially transformative role in agricultural growth in developing countries, but they face persistent obstacles and economic contraints which limit their full inclusion in agriculture. The FAO suggest that closing the gender gap in access to productive resources could increase agricultural output in the developing world by 2.5-4%, reducing the number of undernourished people by 12-17%. Women in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia produce more than half of all the food grown worldwide. Empowering women in agriculture is fundamental to achieving the global goals.

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We need to involve more women in the agricultural sciences. Here’s how.

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The African Women in Agricultural Research and Development is a career-development program that equips the top women agricultural scientists across sub-Saharan Africa. Photo by: AWARD

“I would like to see the scientist working on beans; do you know where I can find him?” I got asked this question more times that I could count.

As a young female African researcher working in Malawi for an international agriculture research organization, my office was the first in a long corridor of offices where we were hosted by the National Research Organization. In the eyes of the regular visitors to the office, I did not fit the image of an agricultural scientist.

A recent study by the International Food Policy Research Institute shows that in 2014, only 24 percent of researchers working in the agricultural sciences were women, and only 17 percent of those in leadership positions were women in a sample of 40 sub-Saharan African countries. This matters because the evidence shows that better jobs for women in agriculture leads to higher wages and greater decision making — which ultimately has a positive impact on the ways households spend money on children’s nutrition, health, and education. Having more women in agricultural research also ensures that this workforce is representative of its client base: Smallholder farmers, the majority of whom are women.

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Gender and Agricultural Extension

A woman farmer harvesting tea in Indonesia (CC0 Public Domain)

Did you know that women produce more than half of all food grown worldwide, and in sub-Saharan Africa women produce up to 80% of all food (FAO, 2011)? Yet across Asia and Africa it is common that women are not given access to the same amount of resources as men, whether that is money, land, tools or information (World Bank et al., 2009). Their opportunities are limited by the social and economic roles that men and women are expected to fulfil in society. It is therefore vital to reach women through our agricultural programmes; otherwise a huge proportion of the human population is missing out on the opportunity to improve household food security and contribute to economic stability.

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Challenges and Opportunities for Women Farmers in Nepal

Basana Thakuri with tomato plants in Kathmandu, Nepal (Photo: Brian Sokol)

In developing countries, rural women play a significant role in agriculture, accounting for 60-80% of food production and selling food products at markets [1]. In Nepal, it’s been reported that up to 98% of women are employed in the agricultural sector, a percentage which is higher than that for men (91%) [1b]. Contribution by women is therefore critical in agriculture to achieve global food security. However, they generally don’t have the same access to land, water, seeds, training and credit than men. [2] As a consequence, in Nepal, women involvement is greater in minor and subsistence food production for crops such as millet, maize, and soybean while men are more involved in cash crops and commercial production of crops such as rice. Moreover, whilst men generally perform heavy physical labour women are involved in tedious and time-consuming work such as weeding, harvesting, threshing and milling[1].

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