If you know anything about agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa, you know that women grow the majority of food crops. […] Yet women farmers often work under very difficult conditions. Many don’t even control the land on which they grow their families’ food, and their access to fertilizers, tools, equipment and other inputs is also constrained. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has estimated that if women had access to the same productive resources as men, they could increase their farm yields by 20-30%.

Agricultural development programmes have done little to close those gaps. Few have actively addressed gender inequality, and without a concerted effort to overcome the social, economic and legal constraints that women farmers face, interventions meant to benefit both sexes are likely to reach mostly men. Even major land reforms and gender equality laws have brought limited benefits, both because of persistent resource disparities, and because in many rural African communities, discriminatory social norms and customary laws still prevail, with or without official sanction.

After decades of trial and error, however, we do know which interventions make the biggest difference – from legal reforms to agricultural extension services, to work with communities, households and individual men and women. Most importantly, we know how crucial it is to combine multiple approaches to overcome the full range of barriers to women’s success in agriculture. It’s not enough to work on any one aspect of empowerment: Africa’s women farmers need the whole package.

Source: Global Food Security blog, UK