Stories tagged: women farmers

Sustainable Pasture Practices Double Milk Production in Colombia

By adopting environmentally-friendly pasture management methods, female dairy farmers can unlock a dormant cattle industry, Jessica Joye writes on behalf of Fintrac. 

La Montañita, a small town located in southwest Colombia, is an area rich in biodiversity and home to two of the country’s largest waterways. However, despite these ecological benefits, the region has been plagued by violence, illicit crop production, and rampant deforestation.

Given the region’s long history of cattle ranching, USAID’s Producers to Markets Alliance (PMA) program, implemented by Fintrac, is partnering with the Association for Economic Solidarity of Central and Lower Cagúan (ASOES) to establish Sustainable Pasture Divisions (DSPs) for 565 rural dairy farmers. DSP is an environmentally-friendly pasture management method based on rotational grazing and pasture divisions. Cattle are placed into pens with high-nutrient fodder grass to restrict overfeeding on one particular area of land. The pens are rotated seasonally as new grass is planted and appropriate for grazing. This method helps cattle optimize nutritional benefits from grass and increase milk production while also ensuring other vegetation is safe from overfeeding.

Flor Maria Gutiérrez Laguna is one of 149 women who are becoming leaders in their community by adopting new methodologies such as DSPs. Flor Maria began with 26 hectares of land divided into four lots; working with ASOES and PMA, she put three hectares under the DSP methodology and quickly began to see an increase in milk productivity thanks to improved access to water for her herd, as well as less damage to her pasture from grazing.

Upon seeing these results, she invested more than $1,000 of her own funds to implement DSP practices on the rest of her land. She also invested in a cement structure to elevate her aqueduct and improve her drinking stations, which she installed with PMA assistance. These improvements have saved her up to two hours per day in water collection – time she can now dedicate to other income-generating activities.

The impact of these activities on her quality of life has been significant.

“Thanks to the program, I have doubled my production. Before, I averaged about 25 liters per day with my 15 dairy cows, and now I am selling 50 liters per day,” she says.

“The extra income helped me invest in more materials for my farm, but most importantly, it has helped me pay for my son’s engineering school, a dream that had been put on hold until recently.”

PMA is bringing hope and opportunity to a region previously plagued with violence and illegality, offering new technologies and effective methods of production for Caquetá’s dairy farmers, empowering them to build a sustainable economic path for future generations.

Featured photo credit: Fintrac/Jessica Joye. Flor Maria Gutierrez Laguna is working with Fintrac’s PMA program to implement improved pasture practices for her 15-cow herd. Since adopting these new methods, she’s seen milk production double. She’s investing her additional income into farm and home improvements as well as her family’s education.


13 Empowering Stories of Women in Family Farming

To celebrate the 2014 International Year of Family Farming, Farming First has curated a list of 13 inspiring stories of women’s empowerment as heads of rural family farms, from our 130+ supporter organisation base. It is the first in our brand new series of content mash ups.

Women account for 60 to 80% of smallholder farmers in the developing world. Yet in sub-Saharan Africa, only 15% of landholders are women, and they receive less than 10% of credit and 7% of extension services. Policies that address gender inequalities could lift 150 million people out of hunger. How can women be empowered to make this estimation a reality?

1. IDE: Veronica Builds a House… With Tomatoes

Veronica Sianchenga was one of the first in her village to buy the Mosi-o-Tunya, a locally manufactured treadle pump developed by iDE Zambia in response to the needs of local customers. It costs less than imported pumps and produces a higher output because it was designed for the specific local topography of rural Zambia. Using their Mosi-o-Tunya, Veronica’s family has already started reaping the benefits of additional income from irrigated produce thanks to iDE’s links to wholesalers and caterers in Livingstone. More

2. IFDC: Using Vegetables to Increase Gender Equity in Bangladesh

IFDC has been active in Bangladesh for over 35 years – assisting farmers to increase productivity, advocating for enabling policy environments and introducing new productivity-enhancing technologies such as fertilizer deep placement. Now, IFDC’s focus reaches beyond rice production to fruit and vegetable crops – an area deemed to be almost exclusively the domain of women. Helping women improve the productivity of more nutritious, high-value products such as vegetables and fruits not only increases family income but also promotes ground-level nutrition by increasing the amount of healthy food available for home consumption. More

IFDC in Bangladesh

3. TechnoServe: Guatemalan Women Launch Successful Nut Product Business

TechnoServe is helping a group of Guatemalan women to harvest, process and commercialize Ramon nut food products. “Alimentos NutriNaturales” has offered hope to many poor women in the community – hope that they could bring in extra incomes for their families and take on new responsibilities outside the home. More


4. FANRPAN: Women Accessing Realigned Markets (WARM) Project Uses Theatre to Give African Women Farmers a Voice

FANRPAN‘s Women Accessing Realigned Markets (WARM) Project seeks to strengthen women farmers’ ability to advocate for appropriate agricultural policies and programmes. The project uses an innovative tool, Theatre for Policy Advocacy, to engage leaders, service providers and policymakers, encourage community participation, and research the needs of women farmers. The project in pilot sites in Malawi and Mozambique. More

5. One Acre Fund: Carolyn Lunani Increases Her Acreage Six-Fold

Twenty-eight-year-old Carolyn Lunani farms four acres of land, where she plants beans, peanuts, bananas, sweet potatoes, trees and other vegetables. In 2009, she joined One Acre Fund, who provide farmers with a service bundle that includes seed and fertilizer, credit, training, and market facilitation. With the extra profits she has earned since joining One Acre Fund, Carolyn has bought a cow and constructed additional rooms on her land that she rents.

Photo courtesy of One Acre Fund/Hailey Tucker

Photo courtesy of One Acre Fund/Hailey Tucker

Click here to download a photo essay on Carolyn Lunani from One Acre Fund

6. International Plant Nutrition Institute: Helping Indian Women Self Help Groups Make the Right Fertilizer Decision

In South Asia, 90 percent of smallholder farmers using fertilizer do not achieve optimum crop yields due to a lack of access to soil testing services. In response to this information gap, the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) South Asia Program developed the Nutrient Expert® decision support tools in partnership with MAIZE CRP to provide location-specific fertilizer recommendations for farmers growing maize and wheat. More

Photo courtesy of CIMMYT

Photo courtesy of CIMMYT

7. Self Help Africa: Banana Boom for Zambian Women

Christine Mwale predicts that the income of women in her village can double when they become full-time suppliers to the new Banana Enterprise Project being supported by Self Help Africa in Nyimba, Zambia. Established by Self Help Africa in collaboration with Nyimba District Farmers Association, the project will buy banana from 600 women farmers with small plantations in the area. More.

8. Farm Africa: Working with Women in Ethiopia to End Poor Nutrition

Before joining Farm Africa’s project in Tigray, Zemansh and her family had no assets or resources and worked as labourers to get some money to buy food. They were lucky to eat one meal a day. Farm Africa provided Zemansh with two goats and training in goat management and breeding. More

Photo credit: Farm Africa

Photo credit: Farm Africa


9. World Farmer’s Organisation: Why Women Farmers are Part of the Climate Change Solution

Filmed at COP19, held in Warsaw in 2013, Susan Carlson, Chairperson of the Women’s Committee of the World Farmers Organisation explains how women farmers can be a part of the solution for both food security and climate change, if they are given equal access to knowledge and technologies. More

10. African Enterprise Challenge Fund – Mariam Kamo’s Cocoa Farm in Sierra Leone Goes from Strength to Strength

Mariam Kamo inherited a large cocoa plot when her husband died , and manages it with her tw sons. Biolands Intl., Africa’s largest exporter of organic cocoa, has been working with smallholder farmers in the Mbeya region since 1999, providing training, technical advice, supplies of seedlings and pruning equipment. Mariam now gets a much higher price for the coffee she produces and can pay the school fees for her four grandchildren. More



11. Fintrac: Helping Esther Fatachi to Turn Chillis into Cash

The Zimbabwe Agricultural Income and Employment Development program (Zim-AIED), in partnership with Better Agriculture, has worked with smallholder farmers at Tshovani, Zimbabwe to diversify from low yielding crops to produce African Birds’ Eye chillies.With input loans and training, farmers like Esther Fatachi saw their profits soar. Esther earned more than $5,000 after selling her produce, with which she purchased a residential stand at a nearby business centre, a water pump, and paid school fees for her grandchild. More


12. Panaac: Linking Women’s Co-operatives to Market in Kenya

Lucy Muchoki Panaac

Lucy Muchoki of the Pan African Agribusiness and Agroindustry Consortium owns a business in Nairobi, Kenya and engages women’s co-operatives to grow the raw crops she needs to process the herbal products she sells. Watch the video here.

13. Farming First Compiles Evidence for Investment in Female Farmers

Farming First partnered with FAO to raise awareness of the gender gap in agriculture, and the impact that closing that gap would have. To explore the award-winning infographic “The Female Face of Farming” in full, click on the image below.

Female Face of Farming

Raising the Profile of Women Farmers on International Women’s Day

Today’s report from FAO truly shows the huge untapped potential that women farmers hold. In it’s 2010-2011 edition of The State of the Food and Agriculture report, they wrote,

If women in rural areas had the same access to land, technology, financial services, education and markets as men, agricultural production could be increased and the number of hungry people reduced by 100-150 million.

Neil Palmer, CIAT

Globally, the share of women employed in agriculture stands at 35.4 per cent, as compared to 32.2 per cent for men, but this proportion rises to almost half of all female employment, at 48.4 per cent, if the more industrialized regions are excluded. In Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia the agricultural sector makes up more than 60 per cent of all female employment.

Generally, women do not access the same resources – inputs, finance, support, land – as men and consequently their productivity is lower. Financial resources are limited for women: they receive 7 per cent of the agricultural extension services and less than 10 per cent of the credit offered to small-scale farmers. Women generally own less land and the land they have is often of lower quality than the land owned by men. According to the International Development Research Centre, women in Africa only own 1 per cent of the land. Just giving women the same access as men to agricultural resources could increase production on women’s farms in developing countries by 20 to 30 percent.

Research shows that if women farmers in Kenya had the same access to farm inputs, education, and experience as their men counterparts, their yields for maize, beans, and cowpeas could increase as much as 22 percent. This would have resulted in a one-time doubling of Kenya’s GDP growth rate in 2004 from 4.3 percent to 8.3 percent (World Bank).

On Reuters Trust website today, FANRPAN’s Lindiwe Majele Sibanda told the story of the “voiceless pillars of African agriculture”: the women farmers. She wrote,

A combination of logistical, cultural, and economic factors, coupled with a lack of gender statistics in the agricultural sector, means that agricultural programs are rarely designed with women’s needs in mind. As a result, African women farmers have no voice in the development of agricultural policies designed to improve their productivity.

However, FANRPAN’s WARM project (Women Accessing Realigned Markets) is helping to address that.

Based on results of a FANRPAN commissioned input subsidy study done in Malawi and Mozambique, FANRPAN has developed a theatre script “The Winds of Change”. The play explores challenges rural women farmers face in accessing agricultural inputs, land, credit and extension services among other things.

Through performance, women are able to voice their concerns, pressures and ideas in front of local leaders and policy makers.

Photo credit: Neil Palmer, CIAT

Partnership to Train Female Dairy Farmers in Pakistan

As part of GCARD 2010, Farming First hosted a session entitled ‘Better Benefiting the Poor through Public-Private Partnerships for Innovation and Action.’ Within the discussions, our panel of experts addressed several case studies that present different ways that partnerships have helped to empower smallholder farmers around the world.

Hans Joehr – Nestec

Nestle buys around $7 billion of agricultural commodities from emerging economies every year. This is around two-thirds of the company’s total expenditure on raw material – and nearly 40% goes towards three key commodities: milk, coffee and cocoa. Over half a million farmers (610,000) supply Nestle directly.

Each of the key regions from which Nestle sources its products has its own political, socio-economic and environmental conditions, but Nestle works to protect the security of its supply, the quality of the resources available, and rural employment and development.

In Pakistan, Nestle invests more than $180 million a year in milk procurement and $3 million on milk-sourcing operations, agricultural and technical support, and training for farmers. Nestle Pakistan contributes to a partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which is training 4000 women agricultural advisers. The project provides technical assistance and advice about animal health, breeding and fodder production to female dairy farmers in rural Pakistan them to raise the quality and value of the milk they supply, which in turn boosts the local economy.

Agriculture and Enterprise Skills for Women Smallholder Farmers

Women play a vital, but often ignored, role in addressing hunger. Whilst a large proportion of farmers in the developing world are female, many lack voice and organisation.  To boost women smallholders’ productivity and reduce their vulnerability to various challenges, women need to be able to access and apply appropriate training for rural livelihoods.

A recent project – Training for Rural Development – highlights the many challenges that women marginal farmers face on a daily basis in their efforts to produce food for their families and communities and focuses on how training can contribute to improved livelihoods for women in the developing world. The research project was conducted by City & Guilds Centre for Skills Development, a not-for-profit research and development organisation that spent January to August 2009 researching and reviewing past and present international projects helping women farmers.

Having evaluated the success of various training schemes in different contexts and different countries, the project’s report offers six key findings:

  1. Enterprise training is valuable in helping women branch out into small business.
  2. To improve women smallholders’ access to training, their particular situations – including their level of literacy and domestic chores – need to be taken into account.
  3. A systematic approach to training for women should be taken, whereby the whole community is involved, to improve women’s positions.
  4. Groups are particularly important in enabling access to training for women, and helping to disseminate information from that training.
  5. Increasing technology use helps to improve agricultural yields whilst reducing the amount of work needed to go into production.
  6. Training programmes needs to be coordinated with improving women farmers’ access to resources to purchase inputs and technologies, and building strong rural infrastructure links to enable women to access training.

After the review phase, the project held four field trials over two countries; Ghana and India. Using lessons from these case studies, the project draws out four recommendations in reaching and supporting women farmers:

  1. Projects must engage with the women and their current challenges through providing a long-term commitment to the community.
  2. Projects must use existing community structures, for example engaging with community leaders, to make training more effective.
  3. Changes need to be introduced in stages that women can manage themselves. Including managerial skills in training programmes can help to support them in this.
  4. Projects can secure longer-term change by engaging effectively with local government structures.