Sustainable Farming Initiatives Empower Women
In developing nations, females make up only 10%-20% of landholders, which leads to gender disparities in the farming industry. When female farmers lack power over land, they have less agency to occupy leadership positions and earn higher incomes. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) launched a program in April 2020 in Ouallam, Niger, to help women adopt sustainable farming practices and support themselves financially through agriculture. The program supports local women from Ouallam, women who faced displacement due to conflict in other parts of Niger and refugees from the neighboring country of Mali. Sustainable farming initiatives empower women in developing countries by helping women to establish their own businesses, fight hunger and boost local economies.
Women in the Farming Industry
According to the World Bank, in 2020, almost 43% of Niger’s people endured extreme poverty, which equates to more than 10 million people. Many global organizations recognize that women account for the majority of the world’s impoverished due to barriers arising through gender equality.
Gender roles make it difficult for many female farmers in developing countries to manage their own crops and handle their own finances. In some cases, even when a woman runs the land and makes important farming decisions, male farmers only ask to do business with a female farmer’s husband.
Female farmers also face obstacles with funding. Female-operated farms yield up to 30% less than male-operated farms because women tend to lack access to credit for funding. Without adequate capital, women farmers are less inclined to purchase and utilize “fertilizer, drought-resistant seeds, sustainable agricultural practices and other advanced farming tools and techniques that increase crop yields.”
Public and private organizations recognize the extent of gender disparities in agriculture and many have launched initiatives to address these issues. UNHCR’s work in Niger is one of many programs that show how sustainable farming initiatives empower women and help close the gender gap in agriculture.
UNHCR and Desert Farming in Niger
Farmers in Ouallam, Niger, must use tactical farming and irrigation practices to sustain crops in the desert. Around 450 female farmers work the land in Ouallam and many of them are refugees only recently entering the world of agriculture. The women grow crops like potatoes, watermelons, cabbage and onions to support themselves and their families. UNHCR’s initiative in 2020 helped the women adopt drip irrigation, which helps preserve water in the desert instead of letting it evaporate or go to waste. Female farmers in Ouallam benefit from UNHCR initiative by adopting efficient irrigation methods that maximize water use and crop yields.
Hunger and Poverty Reduction
Sustainable farming initiatives empower women, reduce hunger and combat poverty in communities around the world. If female farmers had the funding and resources to produce as many crops as male farmers, world hunger could decrease by roughly 17%, according to Oxfam International. Educational initiatives can also teach women highly efficient farming methods that they may not learn otherwise. As productivity and yields increase among female farmers, the incomes of women will increase along with their economic independence. Female farmers increase access to food and contribute to local markets, so they can benefit their communities at large by reducing hunger and poverty.
Public and private initiatives to uplift female farmers can lead to monumental changes in developing countries. Funding and education help women succeed in agriculture, gain financial independence and improve the quality of life in local communities overall.
– Cleo Hudson