Despite growing most of Africa's food, women farmers are often disadvantaged compared to men. Improving women's access to finance, land, inputs and appropriate technologies are therefore key to improving food security on the continent.
How can Africa’s young people be inspired and equipped to become skilled and successful farmers and agri-business entrepreneurs? Delegates at the African Green Revolution Forum in Arusha give their views, including the need to teach agri-business in schools, rural, agricultural training centres for school leavers, and use of social media and ICT to engage young people with agricultural information. Other suggestions include giving young agricultural graduates access to government farmland, and government support for loan facilities targeted at young people, to provide start-up capital.
published: November 2012
Five participants at a recent conference on ‘Young people, farming and food’ share their thoughts on what is needed to attract a new generation of talented young farmers and food processors. They discuss which sectors of agriculture will be most attractive and offer the rewards young people are looking for, and consider the importance of training and investment. Dr Namanga Ngongi, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, believes that providing the right agricultural opportunities to a million young Africans could transform food production on the continent.
published: June 2012
In Kisumu, western Kenya, members of the Mond Ruoth Women’s Group are working together to keep livestock and grow vegetables, in order to support themselves and their families. But a period of dry weather has threatened these activities, reducing the grass available for their animals and making vegetable production difficult. All across the developing world, women tend to be more exposed to the threat of climate change, as they are normally more dependent than men on activities that require rainfall, such as subsistence agriculture and water collecting. Audrey Wabwire speaks to two members of the group, and also to the Ministry of Agriculture’s Wilson Songa, who explains how women’s needs are included in Kenya’s national climate change adaptation plan.
published: April 2012
Through a simple processing technique, Demangam Victorine Luekam converts soya milk into a meat-like product. She then fries the soya meat in oil, which it allows it to be stored for up to a week, and sells cubes of it on sticks to a growing number of customers. Martha Chindong, who interviews Demangam, finds that soya meat is tasty as well as nutritious. It’s particularly good for menopausal women, as it contains natural oestrogen hormone. Eating soya products regularly helps to reduce the hot flushes that are a common symptom of menopause. And as a legume crop, soya also boosts soil fertility.
published: January 2012
Savings and credit organisations are widely established across Africa, encouraging people to save and providing small loans to those who do. But in Uganda, The Hunger Project, an international organisation, is supporting women-led savings and credit groups to set up rural banks. Six such banks have been recognised by the government, and these banks are now empowering women to improve their food security and fight hunger. Wambi Michael visits a rural bank in Wakiso, some 30 kilometres from Kampala, meeting the bank manager Rose Nanyonga and customer Dorothy Kabajungu. He also hears from Daisy Owomugasho, country director of The Hunger Project in Uganda.
published: December 2011
Millions of rural women in Africa earn small amounts of extra income for their families through petty trading. However, when it comes to technical and vocational training to run small businesses, women are often sidelined in favour of men. In Malawi, a technical training organisation, TEVETA, is offering women the chance to learn more advanced skills, including those typically associated with men, such as welding and fabrication. And the organisation has been working with a local female MP, who is passionate about improving the access of women and girls to training and microfinance. Excello Zidana reports, speaking to the MP herself and a TEVETA centre manager.
published: December 2011
Oysters, a luxury food in many western countries, sell very cheaply in The Gambia. The women who harvest oysters have traditionally been poorly equipped and given little respect. However, recently Gambia's oyster women have formed an association, and are organising festivals to promote different oyster-based foods. The association has trained its members to cultivate oysters rather than collect wild ones from the mangroves, in order to reduce the damage done to fish and shrimp nurseries. They are also practising improved hygiene at the trading centres. Fatou Mboob, the association coordinator, speaks to Ismaila Senghore about what they have achieved, and their future hopes.
published: July 2011
In Cameroon, rural women typically experience unequal division of labour in the home, bearing the main responsibility for farming and marketing as well as child rearing and household chores. According to Stella Kecho of the Family Management Agreement Micro-project, this not only leads to higher rates of illness to women, but also causes families to earn less income. In response, her pilot project is working with 20 families in various parts of Yaoundé to introduce new ways of working, ensuring that men and boys play a fuller part in maintaining the household and contributing to its prosperity. Passionate and determined, Stella explains more to Martha Chindong.
published: May 2011
In 2007, Pamela Anyoti started a new company, to grow and export high value spice crops from Uganda. She began by training and buying from 15 smallscale farmers, all widows. She now buys from over 1,000 farmers, and in 2010 exported 24 tonnes of bird's eye chillies to Europe. She was also recognised for her skill as an entrepreneur at the 2010 EMRC Agribusiness Forum in Kampala. She explains more about her business model, and why it has proved so successful, to Pius Sawa.
published: March 2011
Shea butter, extracted from the nuts of the Shea tree, has numerous uses in skin care and beauty treatments. The tree can be found in a wide belt of savannah stretching from Senegal to Sudan, including countries such as Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Uganda. And in Mali, Burkina Faso and Nigeria, rural women have formed cooperatives in order to bulk up the nuts they collect, for processing and sale. From Lagos, Aveseh Asough speaks to many users of Shea butter, as well as a researcher who is working with the women's groups to expand their production.
published: March 2011
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