The Challenges Farmers Face

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In sub-Saharan Africa up to 80 percent of farmers are women. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

In sub-Saharan Africa up to 80 percent of farmers are women. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is holding the third global meeting of the Farmers’ Forum this week in Rome, Italy. The Forum—which brings together more than 70 farmers groups from around the world—is an opportunity for IFAD and other groups to learn firsthand, from farmers, the challenges they face in the field.

On Saturday, the Forum held a workshop to discuss the unique challenges faced by women farmers. Women are the majority of farmers in the world—particularly in sub-Saharan Africa where up to 80 percent of farmers are women. In addition to the day-to-day problems faced by women farmers—including the lack of access to credit and land tenure—women also are underrepresented in farmers groups, associations, and unions, making it hard for their voices to be heard.

But by increasing women’s participation and representation in these groups, women and men farmers alike can work together to improve gender awareness, as well as improve their access to loans and agricultural inputs and land tenure.

Participants at the forum are also discussing the importance of increasing agricultural education among youth. Youth make up 60 percent of the population in rural areas and making agriculture an attractive and economically viable option for them in the future will be important for improving food security and livelihoods (See Cultivation a Passion for Agriculture).

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