Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Women in Africa own less than 5% of titled land

Studies reveal that 90 percent of food grown in Africa is grown by small scale farmers. And Africa�s scale farmers, studies reveal further, produce about half of world food�s supply. Majority of these small scale farmers, according to the same studies, are women. Yet our women in Africa own less than 5% of land. This is very disappointing.
And it is attributed to male dominated traditional institutions vested with the customary rights to manage communal lands. This perturbed women�s rights to access, use and control of agricultural land as a productive resource. 
Sustainable agriculture, rural development and food security cannot be achieved if our policies continue to ignore or exclude more than half of our population, the women. Thus, food security issues should be contextualized within a gender framework taking into account the differential burden borne by women in our socio-economic development. 
�Recognize, promote, facilitate, protect and enforces the rights, needs, roles, participation, accrual of benefits and decision-making of women,� Mr Buba Khan of Action Aid The Gambia has emphasized.  
The coordinator of Right to Food-Africa and a CAADP Focal Point, Mr. Buba Khan was presenting a topic on the role of women in small holder farmers on Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Plan (CAADP) process. CAADP is a regional document that aspires to exploit and expand upon recent growth in agriculture inorder to help African countries achieved food security. It requires member countries to allocate 10 percent of their annual national budget to agriculture. The Gambia, though a member, nonetheless, is yet to meet this requirement. 
Meanwhile, women�s relative unequal responsibility in household chores and caring for family members is done alongside their work as smallholder farmers. So, development policies and strategies will be equitable, when the different needs, constraints, opportunities and priorities of men and women are considered. 
According to Mr Khan, women in Africa contribute 70% of food production which  accounts for nearly half of all farm labour, and 80�90% of food processing, storage and transport, hoeing and weeding
In this regard, he was not equivocal in emphasizing that womens access and ownership of productive assets such as land, is directly tied to their independence as freedom, he noted, begins with economic independence. 
According to him, policy and legal frameworks should guarantee women's access and control of assets especially land and also the reduction of unequal burden of care on women. The voices of women, the level and quality of participation by women in the CAADP process have yet to reach a desired level,� he said
He maintained that there is a wide gap in implementing CAADP because neither governments nor donors are spending enough on agriculture especially food production adding that Agriculture budgets fail to focus on the people who do most of the work�smallholder women farmers. 
�The things that would help poor farmers and women the most  such as rural credit and agricultural research focused on smallholders are the most under-resourced, he said.
Khan stressed that African Ministries of Agriculture are ill-equipped to spend existing resources effectively and donors are using resources poorly by failing to uphold the aid effectiveness commitments of the Paris Declaration of 2005.
Women�s independent right to access and control land is central to the goal of poverty eradication, meeting of basic livelihood needs and empowerment.
Khan added that the use of adequate agricultural inputs for women is one of the practically available ways for most farmers to increase agricultural productivity and ensure food security 
He believed that effective, efficient and non-discriminatory extension advice and training should be available to women farmers. Access to available markets, reliable market information, and competitive prices are necessary ingredients for a vibrant production system, leading to women�s greater economic empowerment 

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