Tech access could save women farmers’ time in farms

Woman carrying hoe
Copyright: Sven Torfinn / Panos

Speed read

  • A project aims to help women farmers access tech to cut post-harvest losses
  • The project is being implemented in two African countries
  • But an expert says governments should do more to tackle gender issues in farming

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[NAIROBI] Embracing new farming technologies could help women farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa reduce the time they spend on the farm, a meeting has heard.
According to researchers, women shoulder the bulk of household responsibilities and are food producers in Africa, thus making them spend more time working on the farm.

“Gender mainstreaming in agricultural ministries and research institutions should not be voluntary or donor-driven.”

Jane Ambuko, University of Nairobi


The researchers highlighted the need to address women farmers' challenges during the launch of the scaling up of post-harvest management innovations for grain legumes in Africa project meeting organised by Alliance for a Green Revolution Africa (AGRA) in partnership with International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Kenya, last month (5 July).
The three-year project that aims to reduce post-harvest loss of grains in Africa is being implemented by AGRA with 2.7 million Canadian dollar (about US$2.1 million) from IDRC and will benefit farmers from Mozambique and Burkina Faso.
Agnes Kalibata, president of AGRA, said that the moment has come to roll out technologies such as threshers, processing and hermatic storage technologies across the continent to ensure that women farmers reap maximum benefit from their investment and hard labour.
Kalibata explained that adopting  these technologies could help in agricultural productivity, minimise post-harvest losses, reduce the time women spend on the farm to do other activities of benefit and  improve their food and nutrition security in Africa.
“Improving the productivity, profitability and sustainability of agriculture of the millions of farms that cover the African continent is essential for ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity in the region,” says Kalibata.
Simon Carter, regional director for Sub-Saharan Africa for the Canadian-based International Development Research Centre (IDRC), said there is a need to provide appropriate information and technologies to women to enhance their productivity.
He explained that a scale-up of technologies that are accessible and affordable to women is key to achieving higher returns from women's time and resource investments.
Carter said that hermetic storage technology, which replaces oxygen in the grain storage bag with carbon dioxide, controlling grain storage pests without insecticide could also increase food conservation and security.

Configure | DeleteJane Ambuko, head of horticulture unit of the Department of Plant Science and Crop Protection at the University of Nairobi, tells SciDev.Net that access to technology and improvement of farming and production systems could have positive benefits not only from an economic perspective but also provide opportunities for women farmers like time to relax with families or engaging in other economic activities.
However, she calls upon the governments to play a role in changing traditional mindsets that stereotype women into secondary positions.
“Gender mainstreaming in agricultural ministries and research institutions should not be voluntary or donor-driven,” says Ambuko. “Governments should make it a compulsory strategy to improve their own potential to meet food security needs.”
 This piece was produced by SciDev.Net's Sub-Saharan Africa English desk.