How to better understand the needs of women in Agribusiness

AGRF 2020

September 3, 2019

“The agricultural labor force in Africa is made up of 49 percent women and 51 percent men. There is no better way of presenting a case for why both male and female farmers need to be digitally equipped in order to drive a revolution,” – Ms. Natalia Pshenichnaya, Head of AgriTech Programme GSMA.

Over the years, women in agribusiness have struggled to rise above societal norms and the gender gap, which continues to exist in terms of literacy, access to affordable products and skills. In light of this, a session at the ongoing African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) centered on the digital platforms available to women and how this presents potential opportunities for scaling up their businesses.

While digital solutions have continued to advance other sectors, it is yet to fully transform agriculture for the better. One of the many reasons for this setback is the lack of emerging solutions that tailor to the exact needs of smallholder farmers, particularly women.

According to Mr. Mamodou Makadji, CEO, Doun Ka Fa Seed Co., one of the challenges his company set out to address is poor access to seeds in rural areas with predominantly female farmers. “We set up kiosks in the villages where they can easily buy the seeds without having to go to the market,” he said. In addition, Mamodou explains that in order to tackle the challenges associated with access to finance, they recently launched a platform called Doni Doni (Little by Little) where female farmers can register to purchase kits ranging from seeds to treatment packs with a payment window of about six months.

Another major highlight of the session was the importance of involving women at various levels of the agricultural value chain. TRoTro Tractor, which is a company that specializes in providing tractor services to farmers, has made it a priority to train more female drivers. “When we started training women tractor drivers, we realized they are more disciplined, and also fully recognize that as opposed to 3 or 4 days using a cutlass and a hoe on their farms, they can learn to use tractors to ease the process and also save time,” said Mr. Kamal-Deen Yakub, CEO, TRoTro Tractor.

Teach a woman, feed a village is testament to the influence women have to drive change and create opportunities for the benefit of a wider community.

There is a need to be more deliberate about inclusion from the grassroots. This is where eMobilis, a training institute for young girls, is thriving. Ms. Joan Mbesya, the MobiGirlz Program Director leads a training program on how to use drones that provide information on ways to increase productivity and reduce loss.

To conclude, the panelists called on the government, private sector and other key stakeholders to support women by initiating more partnerships, providing affordable digital solutions and introducing better agronomy practices. “Without women, agriculture cannot be productive; they are major contributors at different levels of farming,” said Mamodou.