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In brief

Africa’s women farmers are disadvantaged

by Hans Dembowski

In brief

Noorani / Lineair

Noorani / Lineair

According to a study published in March by the World Bank and ONE, the international advocacy agency which was co-founded by U2 star Bono, female farmers are less productive than their male counterparts in several African countries.

The productivity gap is said to range from 13 % in Uganda to 25 % in Malawi. The research for the report was done in Ethiopia, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda. These six countries make up more than 40 % of the sub-Saharan population. The authors list several reasons for women faring worse than men:

  • African agriculture is labour intensive, and women farmers tend to have fewer family members to help them. Many of them are widows or single for other reasons.
  • Women farmers are less able than men to hire workers.
  • Male farmers are better educated on average.
  • Access tends to be unequal to fertilisers, pesticides, land, ­markets and extension services.
  • Smallholder farmers mostly share important information in informal networks, and women are typically excluded from such networks.

The study states that "closing ­Africa’s gender gap is about more than just ensuring that women farmers have equal access to key productive resources". Socio-­economic factors that limit ­women’s ability to make the most productive use of resources must also be tackled, the World Bank and ONE conclude. (dem)