Sixty per cent of farms in Sub-Saharan Africa have at least one female decision-maker involved. Women lead and support agriculture in boardrooms, research laboratories, co-operatives and farmlands. To a large extent, women are also responsible for nutrition and food security at the household and community levels, yet they hold the smallest percentage of registered land.

Women make a critical contribution to the cultural, economic and political progress of communities, but especially as key agents of change in agriculture, nutrition and rural development. Agriculture is the backbone of many African economies, Kenya included. Smallholder farming, which makes up more than half of the food production in Sub-Saharan Africa, is predominantly undertaken by women.

Thanks to training programmes that teach climate-smart farming practices and offer products on credit to smallholders, more women farmers are expanding their farms into thriving, sustainable businesses. Hence, agricultural organisations and institutions consider agricultural training, increased farming finance or credit and quality inputs as timely practical and social advocacy priorities.

Food production

Women comprise at least half of our countryโ€™s population and play an essential role in food production. But due to outdated gender myths, they have less access to and control of land and fewer rights and opportunities than men.

With the realities of farming in the 21st Century apparent, women farmers are at the frontline of learning and adopting climate-smart farming techniques that increase their harvests and resilience to a changing climate, particularly crop diversification.

As champions of agricultural diversification, women adopt and introduce plant varieties and species and animal breeds to farming communities. As drivers of livelihood diversification, they engage in multiple agricultural and non-agricultural activities as professionals, social activists, traders, and so on.

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Inevitably, the work that women engage in shapes gender relations, redefines social norms and establishes them as economic players. Investing in and empowering women in agriculture has often resulted in significant improvements to productivity and rural livelihoods.

Collaborate with women farmers

In agriculture, it behoves us all to collaborate with women farmers to increase and optimise productivity by increasing their access to affordable credit, providing targeted training, supporting production with research and connecting them to markets. Hence, we will nurture women and transform entire families and communities. It is also important that we increase womenโ€™s visibility in agriculture by following through on policy and affirmative action pledges that seek to grow and define women as active, confident and productive.

With this yearโ€™s International Womenโ€™s Day marked on Monday, we must work to create an equitable society where everyone has a chance to thrive.

Ms Kagari is global director of government relations at One Acre Fund.ย  [email protected]

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