Global Resources

Women and agriculture: the untapped opportunity in the wave of transformation

Author: Dr. B. Njobe
Publisher: African Development Bank
Publication Date: Oct 2015

Women constitute a majority in Africa’s agricultural sector, and are estimated to produce between 60-80% of the continents food. Yet women remain an untapped opportunity due to their disproportionate lack of access to finance, services, and productive resources. Combined with rapid population growth and urbanisation contributing to increasing food demand, it becomes clear that a new, innovative approach for regional and national development based on gender-equality, sustainability, and good governance is sorely required.

This background paper brings to the fore the challenges women face in relation to access to productive resources, and discusses how such challenges ultimately negatively impact the continent’s productivity. It also looks at the opportunities open for effective action, and calls for all key stakeholders to commit to putting in place gender-responsive programmes by suggesting a number of potential interventions. 

The way forward is presented according to five key pillars: institutional transformation in law, regulations, agricultural policy, and gender-mainstreaming; access to productive resources, including finance, production facilities, research and development, and input materials; investment in infrastructure to enable trade and markets; investment in the development of high-value agricultural value chains; and increased access for women to technology and mechanised methods.