Women taking a lead in making farming better

As the World celebrates International Women’s Day, we highlight women making a difference to the world’s farms

Women make up more than 40% of the world’s agricultural labour force, but for many years their voices were not as loud as those of men. Now a generation of women are taking the lead in improving conditions and productivity for farmers whatever their gender.

Agnes Kalibata
As Rwanda’s Minister of Agriculture, Dr Kalibata helped the country rebuild its agricultural industry, establishing systems that have led to a doubling in farm output over the last decade. Since 2014 she has been the President of AGRA, an African organization seeking African solutions to boost production for rapidly growing African populations. Its current aim is to improve incomes and food security for 30 million farming households in 11 countries by 2021.

Accessing funding from Governments around the world and institutions such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, projects include improving crop yields in Ethiopia and a five-year US$25million project in Malawi that is building a distribution system for crops and ensuring good access to resources and advice for women farmers as well as men.

In a recent article in the Financial Times, Dr Kalibata wrote: “As a young girl, I grew up with my siblings on a small farm tilled by my parents. Their hard work afforded us, like many sons and daughters of African farmers, an education that gave us a shot at a decent life. I have since been privileged to hold different leadership positions in agriculture, shaping decisions and driving action. I have witnessed the changes in places where investment has happened and am convinced that success can stretch across the African continent if we are strategic and committed.”

For more on the work of AGRA see: https://agra.org/

Minette Batters
For nearly 110 years the National Farmers Union has been representing British farmers and championing their work. Up until last month, the organization was always led by a man. But now Minette Batters has broken through the glass barn roof and will lead the NFU through one of the most important times in modern British farming as the UK leaves the European Union, which for 45 years has determined its agricultural policy.

Ms Batters’ election as president led to extensive national media coverage, with interviews in newspapers and appearances on radio and TV. She has not focused on her gender, but a vision that makes British farming the envy of the world because of its quality, safety and care for the environment. From a farming family, Ms Batters ran a catering business before securing her own tenancy and establishing beef, sheep, arable and business, which also rents out a 17th Century barn for weddings and other occasions.

Minette Batters’ twitter is @Minette_Batters

WOCAN
Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management (WOCAN) was set up in 2004 to help women in agriculture get more recognition for what they do and provide them with the resources to improve their farms and communities. It also strives to break down barriers that prevent women from taking leadership roles in agriculture.

Run by women, the organization has operations throughout the world, but projects are concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Indian Sub-Continent and South America. Projects include leadership training for women in rural communities, resources to help women farmers and entrepreneurs influence agricultural, environmental and social policies in their countries and the development of the W+ Standard that certifies, encourages and endorses projects that empower women farmers.

For more on WOCAN see: http://www.wocan.org/

Minette Batters - first female president for the UK’s National Farmers Union
Minette Batters - first female president for the UK’s National Farmers Union
Women make up more than 40% of the world’s agricultural labour force
Women make up more than 40% of the world’s agricultural labour force
A generation of women are taking the lead in improving conditions and productivity for farmers whatever their gender
A generation of women are taking the lead in improving conditions and productivity for farmers whatever their gender