Women spearhead efforts to feed Africa

Nirit Ben-Ari – SpyGhana – Tuesday, 08 April 2014 (originally published 06 Apr)

Women preparing food
Image: SpyGhana

Do land, seeds and crops havea gender? Perhaps they do in sub-Saharan Africa, where women produce up to 80% of foodstuffs for household consumption and sale in local markets, according to a report by the World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). For crops such as rice, wheat and maize, make up about 90% of food consumed by rural dwellers, it is women who mostly sow the seeds, do the weeding, cultivate and harvest the crops and sell surpluses.

And for secondary crops such as legumes and vegetables, saysthe FAO, “Women’s contribution…is even greater,” adding that it’s as if only women are involved in producing these crops. What’s more, they make and tend the gardens thatprovide much-needed nutritional and economic well-being.

While women farmers are essentially feeding the continent, they have remained largely in the background, calling little attention to themselves and receiving little help. But this situation is changing as they spearhead efforts to transform Africa’s agricultural landscape. Take for example Grace Kamotho, a lecturer at Karatina University in Nairobi, Kenya,where she also trains farmers in new farming technologies and practices that lead to higher productivity. “Being an African woman,” she told Africa Renewal, “I recognize the fact that women are more associated with food preparation and care of the family than men, and I understand the importance of feeding families with appropriate and balanced diet” . . .

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