Empowering Women in African Agriculture: Celebrating Their Contributions and Addressing Systemic Challenges

March is Women’s History Month, a time to celebrate the achievements and contributions of women throughout history. In agriculture, women have played a crucial role in feeding communities and driving economic growth. In Africa, where agriculture is a significant source of livelihood for many people, women have been at the forefront of this sector for centuries.

Through the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer Program, Jane Rose Madoba from Busia, Uganda, received technical assistance to enhance her production – Photo by CNFA

Despite their significant contributions, however, women in African agriculture often face substantial challenges. They are frequently marginalized from decision-making processes and face numerous barriers to accessing resources such as land, credit, and education. These challenges can limit their ability to fully participate in the agricultural sector and realize its potential benefits.

But despite these challenges, women across Africa continue to make essential contributions to agriculture daily. From smallholder farmers growing crops on family farms to entrepreneurs developing innovative solutions to food security challenges, women are driving progress in this critical sector.

In rural Tanzania, a farmer aligns a drip irrigation pipe with guidance from a Feed the Future project agronomist. Photo by Fintrac Inc.
In rural Tanzania, a farmer aligns a drip irrigation pipe with guidance from a Feed the Future project agronomist. The project introduces labor-saving agricultural practices and technologies like drip irrigation to help farmers, especially women, save time and energy through demonstration plots – Photo by Fintrac Inc.

Like USAID, Agri Planet Africa works with women farmers in Uganda, providing training and support to help women farmers increase their productivity and income. Our programs have helped hundreds of women across Uganda improve their farming practices and expand their businesses.

In addition to supporting individual farmers, organizations like Agri Planet Africa are also working to address systemic barriers that hinder women’s participation in agriculture. This includes advocating for policy changes that promote gender equity in land ownership and access to resources like credit.

As we celebrate Women’s History Month this March, let us remember the countless contributions that women have made – and continue to make – to African agriculture. Let us also commit ourselves to supporting efforts that empower women farmers and promote gender equity in all aspects of the agricultural sector.

In Uganda’s Serere district, a farmer is using solar drying to make orange sweet potato chips – Photo Credit: Harrision Tumuhimbise, CGIAR

Together, we can create a more just and sustainable future for all Africans through inclusive agricultural development that recognizes the vital role of women.

In Uganda, smallholder farmers face many challenges, such as a need for access to financial services, market information, and the latest agronomic technologies. However, through its village agent model, Feed the Future is creating a network of experts that provides extension services to farmers and connects them with traders and exporters. For example, Justine Nayiga is one of the village agents who received training from Feed the Future’s Commodity Production and Marketing Activity (CPM) in Mubende District. As a result, she now owns an agricultural inputs shop where she sells seeds, fertilizer, and pesticides, changing her life for the better. Similarly, Maria Nabaka trained as a tractor operator under USAID’s Youth Leadership for Agriculture project, which focuses on empowering girls and young women. Agnes Tumuramye is another farmer supported by Feed, the Future partner, U.S. African Development Foundation. Through these initiatives, smallholder farmers like Agnes can improve their livelihoods while contributing to the growth of their communities.

Women farmers transplant seedlings in Wau County, South Sudan.
In Wau County, South Sudan, a group of local women who belong to a Farmers’ Group are dedicatedly transplanting seedlings from nurseries into the ground before the onset of the rainy season. Despite the persistent tensions caused by the civil war, these women are striving to reintegrate themselves into their community and secure their food supply by putting in hard work to grow crops. Their unwavering commitment is truly inspiring.

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