Women and youth have been urged to embrace technology to market their farm produce amid the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ndaya Beltchika who is the lead technical specialist, gender and social inclusion at International Fund for Agricultural Development (Ifad)) said technology is the next frontier for rural farmers.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has opened a chapter in the technology area and farmers, especially women and the youth, should not be left behind,” she said.
Ms Beltchoka spoke in Rome, Italy during an online session organised by the Thomson Reuters Foundation as part of a Covid-19 professional development programme run in association with Ifad.
She said governments must appreciate that youth are more interested in projects that are connected to technology and endeavor to support them as they seek access to market.
“We have learnt that there is need to involve women and the youth to ensure that their needs are considered,” she said.
Ms Beltchika asked governments to include women and the youth in their decision making platforms and empower them to market their farm produce using technology.
She said Ifad requires that all project activities financed in response to Covid-19 meet specific minimum gender and youth criteria including that it is gender mainstreamed in all aspects of the project, outreach with 40 percent women and 40 percent youth.
Globally, Ifad is spending nearly US$6 billion to empower women.
Last year, the fund investments amounted to US$1.6 billion compared to US$ 1 billion in 2018.
Ms Beltchika said Ifad has been collaborating with country representatives in various regions to ensure projects run by women do not collapse.
“Ifad projects have been repurposed during this season to ensure that farmers benefit from loans offered through the different governments,” she said.
She asked governments to ensure farmers do not consume seeds meant for planting.
“Women’s and youth’s representation at all steps of the recovery ncluding planning, designing, implementing and monitoring is essential to ensure activities are relevant and inclusive,” she said.
Although government doesn’t give handouts to rural farmers, Ms Beltchika said liquidity from projects is being directed to rural projects by financial institutions so that women and youth can receive some ease of the repayment without putting the financial institutions in jeopardy.
“ Ifad is working with various governments to ensure that women, youth and other rural farmers are able to access the loans and pay within a reasonable amount of time,” she said..
Ms Beltchika said everything that is done by Ifad must be approved by the government and said they have repurposed their projects to ensure they do not collapse due to the global pandemic.