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Development Account Projects

Capacity building on agri-business for women to enhance food security in Eastern Africa

Background:

Despite the progress made by many African countries towards meeting the MDGs, including the target of reducing by half the proportion of people who suffer hunger by 2015 (MDG1), an increased number of the poor in Eastern Africa, especially women still suffer from hunger, malnutrition and food shortages. This situation is made worse by the recent food crisis and the drought that hit several countries in the sub-region in recent years, which increased the number of vulnerable people. The FAO estimates that around 20 million people currently depend on food assistance in the sub-region.

Despite being responsible for producing almost 80 per cent of the food in the sub-region, women remain the most vulnerable and worst affected by food insecurity. Gender inequality with respect to land and property rights has been entrenched by existing laws in many African countries, which confer land titles and inheritance rights on male family members only, with females being dependants. Women’s access to land thus remains a challenge for women farmers. In predominantly patriarchal systems in the region, women are also discriminated against in terms of education as well as access to credit to boost agricultural production and productivity. This situation has often been exacerbated by poor health status and impacts of HIV/AIDS on women.

With a view to addressing these gaps and improving the food security situation in the sub-region, a joint programme has been developed by the main RECs and IGOs in Eastern Africa, namely ICGLR, IGAD, EAC, COMESA and CEPGL. The programme is initially targeted at six countries (Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda) and aims to improve sustainable agriculture development and natural resources management as a way of enhancing food security for vulnerable populations. Key components of the programme include research and development (R&D), as well as market and trade including value chain analysis. , Activities related to improving women’s rights to land through the implementation of the Africa Land Policy Framework and Guidelines (ALPFG) have been identified. The programme will provide a unique platform for fostering empowerment of female farmer entrepreneurs through training activities as well as commodity fairs allowing them to put into practice their newly acquired knowledge on land rights, markets and trade, and build on a strengthened network of potential buyers for their produce.

In addition, there is a strong need for women farmers and female members of pastoralist and fishermen communities to better grasp the concepts of agri-business and value chains as well as those related to farming innovations with a view to internalizing them, becoming their implementers at local level and benefiting from their impacts. Women’s involvement in the decision-making processes relating to agri-business is even more desirable as it helps to give them a voice and ensure sustainable participation and development.

Skills development and women’s empowerment are key to agriculture, livestock and fisheries development through fostered female entrepreneurship. Skill development can include targeted education and extension programmes to promote effective yield-enhancing practices but also financial management and marketing programmes to run cooperatives. Tailor-made training modules for women need to be devised to address their specific needs with a view to helping them to become self-reliant and contribute to boosting local economies. It is against this background that this project proposal has been conceived.

Objective:

To strengthen the capacity and skills of women and women groups in agri-business to increase agricultural productivity and enhance food security in Eastern Africa.

Expected accomplishments:

  • Improved understanding and application by women farmers and potential agricultural entrepreneurs, of gender and agri-business related concepts and techniques
  • Enhanced active involvement of women farmers as key players of the civil society and private sector in relevant decision-making processes at various levels.

Implementation status:

In progress.