13 June 2024
African women key to agriculture's future

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The Importance of African Women in Agriculture

A new study led by CABI has shed light on the crucial role African women and young people play in agricultural service provision. As detailed in the CABI Agriculture and Bioscience journal, the research combines a literature review with ongoing action research in Kenya to provide valuable insights into the characteristics, benefits, and challenges faced by women and young individuals engaged in agricultural services in Africa.

African women and young people are essential contributors to the agricultural sector, with women making up 55% of the workforce. Additionally, the continent boasts a young population, with almost 60% of Africans under the age of 25 in 2019, making it the world’s youngest continent. Despite their significant presence in agriculture, women and young people often encounter limitations in decision-making, resource control, and remuneration within the sector.

Challenges and Opportunities for Women and Young People

The study highlights that while engaging African women and young people in agricultural service provision is not a cure-all for the challenges they face, various successful business models have demonstrated the potential for economic empowerment, entrepreneurial development, and skill enhancement among these groups. The key to success lies in adopting place-based, people-focused, market-driven, and value chain-oriented business models.

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However, challenges persist due to various factors, necessitating multi-sectoral collaboration and dedicated funding for sustainable engagement. To truly empower women and young individuals in agriculture, long-term financial support from governments and development partners is crucial. This funding should prioritize continuous capacity building and access to affordable credit to equip service providers with the necessary skills and resources to thrive in their roles.

Recommendations for Sustainable Engagement

Dr. Mariam Kadzamira, the lead author of the study, emphasizes the need for collaboration across sectors to ensure the sustained and effective engagement of women and young people in agricultural service provision. This collaboration should encompass capacity building, financial support, and the active involvement of the private sector in integrating women and young individuals into their business plans and marketing networks.

Moreover, the study underscores the importance of evidence-based research to assess the impact of including women and young people in agricultural service provision on policy development. By rigorously evaluating successful business models and addressing gender disparities in the sector, researchers can identify strategies to enhance training, engagement, and access to agricultural services for women and young providers in Africa.

The Path Forward: Transdisciplinary Research and Empowerment

In conclusion, the study advocates for robust transdisciplinary research to validate insights from action research and enhance understanding of the benefits and challenges associated with engaging women and young people in agricultural service provision. By quantifying remuneration, assessing client willingness to pay, and measuring the impacts of women and young providers at the farmer level, researchers can contribute to the development of comprehensive strategies to overcome socio-cultural barriers and promote gender equality in the agricultural sector.

Overall, the study underscores the pivotal role of African women and young people in agriculture and emphasizes the need for concerted efforts to empower and support their participation in agricultural service provision. Through collaborative partnerships, dedicated funding, and evidence-based research, the agricultural sector can harness the potential of women and young individuals to drive sustainable development and economic growth across the continent.

Links to additional Resources:

1. www.cabi.org 2. www.agricultureandbioscience.org 3. www.fao.org/gender/home/en/

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