KIGALI, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) — Despite women playing a predominant role in African agriculture, few are engaged in agribusiness activities, in addition to limited participation in the agricultural value chain, experts said Friday.

They were speaking at a panel on “women smallholder farmers and agribusiness” on the sidelines of 2018 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in the Rwandan capital Kigali.

The event that runs from Sept. 5 to 8 under the theme: “Lead. Measure. Grow:” seeks to harness new pathways to turn African smallholders into future agribusinesses.

“We need to come together to support African women in agriculture to participate in agri-business activities by empowering them to access to productive resources, technologies, services and markets,” said Priscilla Achakpa, executive director of Women Environmental Program (WEP).

She added that strong links to high-value markets, access to necessary finance and sufficient business training are essential requirements for women farmers to actively engage in agribusinesses.

The four-day meeting has attracted over 2000 participants from businesses, governments, farmer organizations, and civil society to deliberate ways of transforming Africa’s agriculture.

Marie Chantal Isugi, general manager of Garden Fresh, a Rwanda horticulture processing company, said that African women are central to all aspects of agriculture in their communities; however they are marginalized when it comes to agricultural value chain.

“It’s time African leaders and policy makers affirm their commitment to women empowerment in the business of agriculture, in order to eradicate household poverty and hunger on the continent,” she said.

According to Jemimah Njuki, senior program specialist at Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), women in agriculture sector in Africa have less than 50 percent chance of accessing finances in agriculture which limits their agribusiness potential.

“For women to be successful in business, we must address issues of land, markets and improved mechanization. We have to believe in women and invest in them,” she said.

According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), about 62 percent of economically active women in Africa work in agriculture, making it the largest employer of women.

Around the world, 815 million people suffer from hunger. That number could be significantly reduced if women farmers had the same rights and resources as their male counterparts, according to the World Bank Group.

Several African heads of state and governments and as well as distinguished global personalities are expected to attend the high level event, according to organizers.

 

Originally published on Xinhua