Programme launched to boost women involvement in agribusiness

Wednesday March 18 2020
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Ms Nnenna Nwabufo, the Deputy Director for East Africa, Africa Development Bank (AfDB) Group (centre) is joined by Ms Sabdiyo Dido (right) the Senior Technical Advisor at CTA and the head of VALUE4HER, and Ms Irene Ochem, CEO of African Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF), during the launch of Value4Her, a programme designed to support women in agribusiness. FILE PHOTO | NMG

By BRIAN OKINDA

Smallholder women farmers and women-owned micro-enterprises (mama mbogas) have been asked to take advantage of the affirmative action policy preferentially awarding 30 percent of tenders in each ministry to women-owned businesses.

Through this, women, who are the ones more actively engaged in smallholder agribusinesses and agricultural production, can benefit in enhancing their productivity.

Speaking during the launch of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) Value4Her Project, which aims at strengthening women’s agribusiness enterprises, agriculture principal secretary Dr Richard Lesiyampe said that limited empowering often sees women engagement in agriculture diminishing.

“In the post production stages of agriculture supply chain, women tend to have reduced activity and visibility. Interventions to support them in agribusiness should therefore be implemented with focus on the entire supply/value chain,” he said.

Dr Lesiyampe added that special emphasis should be put on women’s access to markets, knowledge and skills improvement and advocacy as envisioned in the CTA programme.

“We know that if women, were for instance, empowered and given resources such as machinery, fertilizer, and information, just as it is the case with men, they could increase yields on their farms by about 20 to 30 percent,” said the PS.

Speaking in the same event, CTA director, Michael Hailu, pointed out that women face barriers such as unfavourable lending policies due lack of collateral, which critically restricts their access to agricultural financing.

“They also face a lack of access to business development services meaning that growing businesses is a challenge. Physical markets are also difficult and costly to reach, due to the distances and harassment that women traders face in rural areas, and due to the informal status of many women-led micro-enterprises in the agri-food sector, they also face many barriers in terms of access to formal markets, which may be safer and more lucrative than informal markets,” said Mr Hailu.

Value4Her will in effect target market access, improving knowledge, skills and networks and global advocacy to address some of the key barriers to women’s empowerment high up in agricultural value chains, according to him.

“We believe that a critical way to make progress is to empower women to take stronger roles at the business end of the value chain,” Mr Hailu mentioned.

He added: “With Value4Her we recognise potential and want to give it room to grow.  Through it we aspire to engage 100,000 women agripreneurs in Africa.”