Posts Tagged ‘insurance’


Closing the Gender Gap in Agriculture

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By Supriya Kumar

Women comprise about 43 percent of the agricultural labor force in developing countries, yet they face considerable inequalities, such as limited access to important resources. The recently published State of Food and Agriculture 2010-11 by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) presents the potential gains of reducing the gender gap in agriculture and rural employment – gains that will not only benefit women farmers, but also the agricultural sector as a whole.

Improving women farmer’s access to inputs could increase global food security (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

On average, female farmers produce less than their male counterparts, not because they are less efficient, but because they have limited access to necessary inputs. Access to land is a basic requirement of agriculture, but in North and West Africa, women represent fewer than five percent of all agricultural landholders. Not only are men more likely to own land, but on average male-headed households own larger plots of land, according to the FAO.

Cultural norms and government policies normally dictate land ownership in developing countries, but FAO suggests that a key step is to both review and reform relevant national legislation. Since tradition plays an important role, simply changing a law might now achieve immediate results. It’s important, therefore, to recognize local customs and work with community leaders to increase and protect women’s access to land.

Another input that women farmers have limited access to is financial services such as credit and insurance. Legal and cultural barriers mean that women generally cannot have bank accounts or sign off on any financial contracts and, as a result, are less likely to use credit. In Nigeria, a mere five percent of women obtain formal credit, compared to 14 percent of men.

Much like improving access to land, access to financial services for women will require legal and social changes in developing countries. In addition, promoting financial literacy among women and simplifying financial literature will also improve women’s access to these valuable services.



Nourishing the Planet in the India Tribune

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Check out this Letter to the Editor Nourishing the Planet had published in the India Tribune.  As farmers worldwide face increasingly harsh weather conditions due to a changing climate, such as the recent flooding in the three Indian districts of Ambala, Kurukshetra and Kaithal, the threats of failed harvests, lost income, and hunger become more real.  While local governmental support of farmers with crops insurance is an important way to protect livelihoods, using sustainable agriculture practices, including planting traditional crops that are better adapted to local condition, can help mitigate the effects of flooding and drought.

To read more about agriculture practices that are adaptive in the face of climate change, see: Food Systems Can Sink Us or Save Us, Turning the Catch of the Day into Improved Livelihoods for the Whole Community, Innovation of the Week: Using Livestock to Rebuild and Preserve Communities, Homegrown Solutions to Alleviating Hunger and Poverty