Agriculture remains an important source of livelihood for most Africans, but the sector is not fulfilling its potential. The persistent gender gap in farming activities is a major obstacle to agricultural growth and development in the continent.
Almost half of the labour force in sub-Saharan Africa's agricultural sector is made up of women. They are growing nearly 70% of food and contributing about 21% of the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, their activities in farming can often be reduced to unpaid family labour, and as a consequence, they are in many cases excluded from agricultural statistics (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), 2011).
There are numerous issues responsible for under performance of women in the sector, however a key one remains their low access to productive resources – many customary laws and institutions around inheritance and property rights merely exacerbate this(Meinzen-Dick, Quisumbing & Behrman, 2014).
African youth face similar circumstances. Many grapple with limited access to credit and other productive resources such as land and education/vocational training necessary for agriculture productivity. Yet the sector has considerable potential to provide gainful employment opportunities to a large number of young people if it is supported with increased investment and conducive legal and policy frameworks (60 to 70 per cent of the region’s population is below 30 years old).
Under a changing climate, these barriers further constrain women and youth’s recognition in the sector and their ability to adapt, hence widening the gender gap.
Analysis of gender gaps in Agriculture under the CRAFT Project
A gender mapping exercise, conducted in 2020 under the Climate Resilient Agribusiness for Tomorrow (CRAFT) project, established the forementioned gender inequalities and identified constraints and barriers that curtail gender and youth inclusion in the agriculture value chain.
As part of this exercise, farmers rated themselves on each indicator, using the following scoring aid: 5 – Always or jointly; 4 – Almost always; 3 – Often; 2 – Sometimes; 1 – Rarely; and 0 – Never. Farmers who scored themselves 3 or less were then re-classified as inadequate on that particular indicator.
Findings from sixteen (16) agribusinesses supported by the project in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda revealed the urgent need to support women and youth farmers in addressing gender issues that affect them in areas explained below.
Amina Matata from Jenjeluse village in Dodoma Capital in Tanzania practicing minimum tillage as one of the Climate Smart Agriculture practises promoted by CRAFT.
CRAFT’s strategy to enhancing youth and women farmers’ participation in agricultural transformation amidst the climate challenge
To ensure women and youth’s meaningful participation in the agricultural sector, the CRAFT Project applies gender specific strategies, such as:
Training farmer groups and agribusinesses in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in governance and leadership - with specific attention to group dynamics aimed at supporting women and youth’s increased participation and leadership.
Improving access to credit by linking women and youth led agribusinesses to financial institutions who avail affordable production credit services payable after harvest. The project also facilitates the formation of the Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) amongst small holder farmers.
Promoting the adoption of gender responsive climate-smart agricultural (CSA) practices such as integrated pest management, post-harvest handling, sustainable soil and water management, climate tolerant and sustainable seeds selection (and distribution) by women and youth small holder farmers.
Improving access to labour-saving and productivity enhancing technologies such as tractor hire services for ploughing, mobile threshers and motorized sprayers among small holder farmers and agribusinesses. Not only has this reduced women farmers’ drudgery in climatic risk areas, but also enhanced gender inclusion. Youth are able to leverage the productivity and employment opportunities that mechanised agriculture offers.
Enabling conditions that improve youth and women's market access across the food value chain, such as collective marketing which spreads costs over a larger crop volume, creates a larger presence in the marketplace, and focuses marketing and selling efforts.
Protecting women- and youth-led agribusiness from evident climate risks through its Climate Innovation and Investment Facility (CIIF).
Read about how one of CRAFT’s supported agribusinesses, Shalem Investment Ltd, is using the above findings to promote women’s participation and leadership in the agricultural sector.
Written by: Sandra Nassali (CRAFT Communications Officer) and Sarah Mazirwe (CRAFT Communications Intern).
More information: The Climate Resilient Agribusiness for Tomorrow (CRAFT) project is funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and aims to increase the availability and accessibility of climate-resilient food for the growing populations in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. The project is implemented by SNV (lead) in partnership with the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), Wageningen University and Research (WUR), Agriterra and Rabo Partnerships.
The CRAFT Project partners use findings from the mapping exercise to ensure gender integration during project implementation.