smallholder farmers
Food manufacturing company Kellogg has teamed up with TechnoServe, an NGO focused on entrepreneurial initiatives in Third World areas, to launch an initiative helping female smallholder farmers receive training in climate-smart agriculture.

The initiative was unveiled on March 8, International Women’s Day. The work will predominately be focused in India to help 12,000 women who are smallholder farmers get access to tools, financing and agricultural inputs. A program will also be created in South Africa to train 400 women in improving the quality and quantity of their yields.

According to GreenBiz, the number of smallholder farmers around the world has been on the rise, and almost half of them are women. In developing countries where smallholding is a common practice, men are typically the ones trained in business transactions and financing. About half of India’s population is a part of smallholder families, and much of this group suffers from extreme poverty.

Diane Holdorf, Kellogg’s Chief Sustainability Officer, said in the GreenBiz report, “We know that in many of these societies, these women face very significant challenges; they lack access to training, lack access to financing and lack access to seeds that would really help them to improve their agricultural yields and livelihoods.”

Kellogg, like most multinational food companies, relies on international farmers to grow its ingredients. In India, GreenBiz reports that roughly 23,258 smallholder farmers supply the honey, wheat, rice, and maize that Kellogg uses in its nearby production.

About a year and a half ago, when the U.N. and the global business community began drafting Sustainable Development Goals to address world poverty, Kellogg investigated how to help female smallholder farmers. Kellogg then began a pilot program with TechnoServe to teach 3,000 smallholder farmers about sustainable farming, and now have established this official initiative.

With global warming becoming a growing issue, many farmers around the world are challenged with shorter planting seasons, droughts or floods. As a result, according to GreenBiz, Kellogg believes that helping smallholder farmers adjust will be both good business and good corporate citizenship.

Kerri Whelan

Photo: Flickr

Poverty Reduction Efforts on WomenProgress in the fight against poverty has demonstrated the importance of focusing on poverty alleviation efforts on women and children. Despite the great gains that have been made, gender inequality and violence against women still exist in every country in the world. Poverty reduction efforts should focus on women because women are vital to sustainable development. The empowerment of women leads to economic growth and increased social stability.

Poverty reduction efforts should focus on women because women have fewer opportunities for equal and meaningful education, jobs, and health care. Access to these human rights is essential in order to escape from poverty. Currently, women own only one percent of all property and earn just 10 percent of all income, yet they produce half of the world’s food.

Over 70 percent of the world’s poor, those living on less than $1.25 USD per day, are women. Because women compose the majority of those living in poverty, and because they face additional hurdles in achieving economic and social equality and success, poverty reduction efforts should focus on women across the globe, especially among the most disadvantaged and marginalized populations.

Most of the world’s poor women spend the majority of their time performing household chores, including cooking, cleaning, growing or obtaining food, collecting fuel and water, and caring for family members. Women do not receive monetary compensation for these tasks, yet they compose up to 63 percent of the gross domestic product in countries like India and Tanzania. Time and energy spent on these essential tasks result in fewer opportunities for advancement, such as education or economic pursuits.

A 2000 study by the International Food Policy Research Institute found that the majority of the reduction in global hunger between 1970 and 1995 could be attributed to the improvement of women’s social status. Progress in women’s education, food availability, and health care all played major roles in the reduction of hunger.

Because women play a major role in the world’s food production, poverty reduction efforts should focus on women farmers in order to help them earn a viable income and rise above poverty. Programs have been instituted in China, Bangladesh, and the Philippines that subsidize women farmers in order to allow them to grow food while earning extra income from selling vegetables or raising animals. Access to adequate sanitation facilities, health care, and children’s education are also priorities for bringing more women out of poverty.

– Kat Henrichs

Sources: Center for American Progress, NY Times
Photo: Muslimah Source

Women in Kenya are going back to a traditional practice to help hold communities together. The practice is that of communal agriculture and through a woman-led initiative, neighbors helping neighbors in farming will hopefully save the lives of over 700,000 Kenyans over a period of 20 years who would have died from inadequate nutrition.

The traditional practice used to be the norm, yet, climate change has made the outcomes of crops unpredictable and scarce resources threatened economic prosperity, forcing many to seek jobs in more urban areas. This weakened bonds between village members, which made maintaining peace within a village difficult and brought up other issues, such as problems between ethnic groups that had been living in harmony before. Weakened bonds between community members predisposed many Kenyan communities to violence in the elections of 2007 and into 2008. According to Nyokabi Wamuyu, a member of the women-led farm initiative, “Some people say they [we]re fighting for land while others do it to take political sides.”

Over the next three years, the women-led farm initiative is aimed at 3,400 women farmers in the eastern areas of Kenya and in the Rift Valley. The mission of the initiative “is to equip the women with skills to make income-generating farming more attractive than subsistence agriculture.” This will be done by teaching women to bond with other women over shared activities, providing activities that will give women the tools and techniques to negotiate prices and access agricultural activities via mobile devices.

This initiative succeeding will hopefully help bridge the gap between genders in Kenya. Even though the new Kenyan Constitution gives women rights to land and property, gender inequality still exists in many rural farm areas.

– Angela Hooks

Source: AllAfrica
Photo: Calista Jones