Sunday, May 11, 2014

Schooling African women farmers will boost agricultural productivity

The whole world is racing against time trying to find ways of boosting food production for the global population expected to double by 2050.

Rural woman farmer Mali works her land. Kaidia Samak√©’s village has formed a women’s association that helps women who are working in agriculture in the region with jobs and small loans. Image: F. Fiondella/IRI

Questions as to whether genetically modified foods can assist in reducing the hefty burden have been raised attracting support and critics in equal measure.

 But there is a new school of thought in town. If a majority of the farming carried out in the continent is done on small scale farming and undertaken mostly by the women in these households, why not empower them with all the agricultural information available.

One of    the continent’s greatest scholars, Prof. Calestous Juma is advocating for higher technical training for African women farmers arguing that it is the only way that the continent can make agriculture  an engine for the region’s development.

This he says will not only build Africa’s capacity to feed itself but also become an important player in global food trade.

A good case study that he gives is the African Rural University (ARU) for women inaugurated in Kibaale district of western Uganda in 2011. The sole purpose is to train women focusing on rural development and entrepreneurship.

And I agree with him.

African Rural University (ARU)'s Administration block
Women in rural parts of any country on the continent spend most of their day on the farm and while they provide the intensive labour they hardly reap any rewards as most times it is the men who get the dividends and booms from sale of cash crops into their accounts.

Many of these women are uneducated and still rely on the traditional ways of farming that their grandparents used yet the weather and agricultural systems have not stayed constant.

If we  give these  women the much needed  knowledge in using better seed  Varieties and animal breeds  then we are on step closer  to reducing the agricultural p0roductivity of  our land.

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