Robynne Anderson's Emerging Thoughts on Ag

Women Farmers

Women make crucial contributions to the agricultural sector as farmers, fishers, livestock keepers, farm labourers and primary processing. An average 43 percent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries are women, ranging from about 20 percent in the Americas to almost 50 percent in East and Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Sadly, women farmers typically achieve yields that are 20-30 percent lower than men, not because they are less skilled but because they use fewer inputs like improved seeds and fertilizers. If the yield gap between male and female farmers were closed, it could generate additional production sufficient to reduce the number of undernourished people in the world by 100-150 million or 12-17 percent, according to FAO.

Closing this gap means focusing on access to the productive resources and services, such as land, livestock, human capital, extension services, financial services and new technology, for women. As well, rural women employed in agriculture are less likely than men to have low paying jobs, and only temporary or seasonal work.

As the UN is about to talk about Rural Women for the first time from February 27-March 9, it is important to remember how feminine the face of global farming is and how we must close the gap in access to resources.