Farming First was on the ground in Zambia last week, attending the World Farmers’ Organisation General Assembly in Livingstone, opened by the President of Zambia, H.E Edgar Changwa Lungu. Under the theme of “Partnership for Growth”, leading farmer groups, representatives of United Nations bodies, government officials and the private sector came together to debate the future of agriculture and sustainable development. Continue reading
4th – 7th May, 2016
WFO’s mission is to represent and advocate on behalf of farmers in global policy fora and create the conditions for the adoption of policies aimed to improve the economic environment and livelihood of producers, their families, and rural communities.
In 2016 the WFO General Assembly will be held in Livingstone, Zambia and will address the theme of Partnership for Growth. Confirmed speakers include José Graziano Da Silva, Director General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and Kanayo Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development. Continue reading
Farming First is at the United Nations today, addressing a session on Financing for Development and the Post-2015 process. The delegation is bringing agriculture’s central role in achieving several of the Sustainable Development Goals to the attention of negotiators, not just those relating to hunger.
Sue Carlson, Chair of the Women’s Committee of the World Farmers’ Organisation has also highlighted concern that access to inputs and extension is not currently featured in the draft outcome statement of the International Conference on Financing Development. Read her statement below. Continue reading
Thursday 20th March, 11am – 12pm EDT on Twitter
Join the conversation!
2014 is the International Year of Family Farming. But who is at the head of these family-farming households? Research from the FAO has found that up to 40% of households are headed by women in Eastern Africa, and across the developing world, women account for 60 to 80% of smallholder farmers.
Yet these women face economic and social constraints. 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?
Join experts from USAID and global agriculture coalition Farming First on Twitter at 11am EDT on Thursday 20th March to debate the issues with our experts:
Sylvia Cabus is the gender advisor for the Bureau of Food Security at USAID and for the Feed the Future Initiative. She worked for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in Kenya, Morocco, Mali,and Burkina Faso. In the United States, Sylvia worked as a program officer with Heifer International, Handicap International, and USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance.
Stephanie Hanson is the director of policy and outreach at One Acre Fund, where she manages the government relations and policy team and One Acre Fund’s global policy and advocacy work. From 2006 to 2009, she covered economic and political development in Africa and Latin America for CFR.org, the website of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Sue Carlson has been a farmer and family farm advocate much of her life. She currently serves as Facilitator and Chairperson of the World Farmers Organisation Women’s Committee, a GAP Catalyst for the Global Funding and Research Gender in Agricultural Partners, and serves on the Shamba Partnership Board. Over the years she has traveled to nearly 40 different countries advocating for family farmers.
Sithembile Ndema Mwamakamba is a Project Manager with the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN). She coordinates the FANRPAN Youth and Gender Programme Portfolio, aimed at developing a holistic agriculture policy framework in Africa that will support engagement of youth and women in the agriculture sector.
Questions to be addressed:
- What challenges do women in family farming face in the developing world, and what do they need to thrive?
- How can we reach more women farmers worldwide with tools and skills they need?
- What are the success stories that show the benefits of investing in rural women? How do we measure this success?
- How do we identify and empower male allies in the quest to improve women-run family farms?
- Women farmers are often both the breadwinners and the bread bakers. How do we improve the nutritional status of family farms?
If you have additional questions you’d like to ask our experts, tweet @Agrilinks or @farmingfirst using the #AskAg hashtag!
WFO General Assembly
Buenos Aires, Argentina
March 25 – 29 2014
Food Security, Value Chain, Innovation, Climate Change, Women and Youth will be the main topics of the sessions to be held in “La Rural”, the big convention centre in Buenos Aires.
For more details contact [email protected]
Today, in the lead up to International Women’s Day on 8th March, Farming First captures the voice of a female smallholder farmer who highlights the challenges still faced by women each day as they strive to provide nutritious food for their families in Uganda. Rose Akaki rears cattle for beef and grows maize, both of which she sells to local schools to feed the children. She has recently started to keep bees.
How much of the land do women in Uganda own?
About 80% of farmers in Uganda are women, producing 60% of food but they only own 1% of land they use for farming; a meagre percentage. The rest of the land is under the control of men, as land ownership in Uganda is a preserve of men. So, what is planted on such land is dictated by them. They decide which crops can be planted. For instance, a man can decide to use the land to grow cash crops like tobacco or sugar cane that fetch a higher price at the market, and yet these crops are not food crops. This implies that the size of land that women use for agriculture is very limited, and whatever is produced from such land is limited to household consumption. Furthermore, this land is overused and has low fertility.
Is there any technology to help women boost yields?
Ox ploughs are starting to come in, but most women still use a hand hoe. This means farming is very labour intensive. A lot of the work is done by women, who also have many other care giving tasks to complete. So we really need technology to reduce the time and energy a woman spends on the farm so that she can do other things and grow more food to feed her family. We are a long way off from having tractors – there are a few privately owned tractors but a rural woman farmer will not have the money to hire them.
Do any extension services reach your community?
Extension services do exist but you have to pay for them. If I need a vet to look at my cows, then I have to pay for his transport, expertise and the drugs he will recommend, and then feed the person when they visit my house, it is quite discouraging for a smallholder farmer.
Are women able to sell surplus crops?
People can sell what they want but peak season is a problem. Everyone has the same product so the price gets lower. We need effective storage systems so we can get a better price for our crops later in the year. This also calls for getting organised in groups.
Do women have access to finance?
This is a big challenge. The Government of Uganda has encouraged people to go into microfinance, but loans come with demands. A rural women farmer who only owns a tiny amount of land may not have the collateral to put down as security. What our farmers’ organisation has done to address this is to encourage women to form groups, called Savings and Co-operative Societies in villages. Every week women are encouraged to put something in a saving box, this accumulates and you are then able to borrow from that box to cater for your farm and family needs.
What recommendations would you make to policymakers?
More money could be spent on agriculture. In Uganda, agriculture is the backbone of the economy and more money would do a lot of good in the sector. Also, smallholder farmers, especially women rural farmers, should be part of the policy making process, so they can articulate the issues that concern them. Sometimes policies are made for us and we don’t get the benefits.
The government is already doing a lot to ensure sustained agricultural production, but implementation of the policies is often a problem. There are many good policies on land rights, ownership and modernisation of agriculture. I call upon our farmer organisations to monitor the implementation of such policies so that the smallholder farmer can benefit and government can see the value of their investments.
What is your final message as a female farmer on International Women’s Day?
Rural women farmers produce most of the food to feed the family. These women should be empowered to improve their productivity, by giving them access to land, better tools to till the land, seeds and agrochemicals, access to financial services to improve their farm practices, information on weather, but also affordable agricultural extension services. Then, women can produce more food for the growing population.