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Agricultural Businesses Are the Key to “Decent Work” in Rural Communities

Decent agricultural work can be a vehicle for economic growth. Kristin Williams, Communications Manager at Root Capital, tells Farming First how investments can empower smallholder farmers. Farming is hard work. This is especially true on the world’s 500 million smallholder farms, which rely almost entirely on informal family labor. There, farmers rise before the sun, and toil in plots of land just large enough to grow food for the table and perhaps one or two crops for sale. Sudden shocks—like drought, flood, or disease—can wipe out the fruits of their labor in an instant. If they’re lucky, they can get their crops to a nearby market; once there, they have little recourse if buyers refuse to give a fair price. Billions of people make their living in this difficult way. And it’s no coincidence that they comprise much of the world’s extreme poor, surviving on less than $2 per day. But the connection between farming and poverty is not a foregone conclusion. Yes, farming is hard work; but with targeted investments it can also be “decent work.” …

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#FillTheGap! Breadwinners and homemakers in Malawi

This is the final post of Farming First’s #FillTheGap campaign to highlight the gender gap facing rural women working in agriculture.  Malidadi Chilongo may only be 27 but she is already a small-scale farmer, a mother-of-four, and her husband’s second wife. She met her husband when she was 15, fell in love, and married. She has a good relationship with her husband’s first wife, who has five children. “I was nervous at first to come here but it has been fine,” she said. “We get along well. We help each other out – I care for her children and she cares for mine if we need to do other things.” …

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#FillTheGap! Women bring home the bacon in Malawi

This is the ninth post of Farming First’s #FillTheGap campaign to highlight the gender gap facing rural women working in agriculture. Smallholders in Africa, more than anywhere else in the world, are at the mercy of a changing climate and environmental conditions, which can bring extreme weather and disease. Only last year this harsh life-lesson was brought home dramatically to Ethel Khundi, 36, when her entire drove of pigs was killed by an outbreak of swine flu that wiped out hundreds of animals in the locality. “Nearly everyone in the village lost their animals. It was a major setback,” she said. …

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#FillTheGap! Women in Burkina Faso warrant greater credit

This is the eighth post of Farming First’s #FillTheGap campaign to highlight the gender gap facing rural women working in agriculture. For smallholder subsistence farmers, one of the greatest barriers to developing their business is a lack of available credit for what is often written off as too risky an investment. For female smallholders, the prejudices are greater still. Yet bridging this risk-averse preconception can have a transformative effect, not only for the women it affects but for her family and community as well. …

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#FillTheGap! Scaling up equality in Kenya

This is the seventh post of Farming First’s #FillTheGap campaign to highlight the gender gap facing rural women working in agriculture. When Beatrice Gichuru’s husband passed away around three years ago, she lost not only her partner but her also provider and guardian. Like many Kenyan women, Beatrice had relied upon her husband to provide the land she farmed. But in becoming a self-sufficient widow, Beatrice overcame the tragedy as well as the gender gap that means only one per cent of Kenyan women own land and access less than 10 per cent of available credit. …

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#FillTheGap! Empowering female agripreneurs in Zimbabwe

This is the sixth post of Farming First’s #FillTheGap campaign to highlight the gender gap facing rural women working in agriculture. When Ruramiso Mashumba started farming in 2012 on a farm she inherited from her parents, the land was just a bush with no equipment or the necessary infrastructure. What’s more, Ruramiso faced a greater challenge: in her native Zimbabwe, women are more likely to work unpaid in agriculture than to be a paid full-time worker, let alone an employer or agripreneur. …

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