According to several reports, the office of the Special Envoy on Gender (SEOG) and the Department for Agriculture and Agro-industry (OSAN) of the African Development Bank (AfDB) launched a new report, “Economic Empowerment of African Women through Equitable Participation in Agricultural Value Chains” on Thursday, at its Abidjan headquarters in Côted’Ivoire.

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“This report prepares the ground to empower women, to take a leading role in the business of farming and agricultural value chains, regionally and globally”, said the President of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka.

Agriculture in Africa is expected to remain one of the most important economic sectors, accounting for around 25% of the continent’s GDP. Over 60% of Africans rely on agriculture for some kind of income. To transform the sector, the economic empowerment of women via productivity boosts and raising participation in commercial and higher value-adding activities in agriculture is central to this.

Women make up almost 50% of the agricultural labour force in Sub-Saharan Africa. About 62% of economically active women in Africa are in the agricultural sector, making it the largest employer of women.

“African women feed the continent and they can feed the world, too. But we must close the wide gap in wages and agricultural yields between men and women if Africa is to achieve full economic transformation,” said the AfDB’s Special Envoy on Gender, Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi.

The report highlights five major issues that can limit women’s productivity and proper inclusion into the agricultural economy: lack of access to assets, lack of access to financing, limited training, gender-neutral government policy, and time constraints due to heavy domestic responsibilities.

The report then identified three broad areas to act on so as to begin to address the specific constraints women face in each focus country:

- Grow the number of large-scale agribusiness entrepreneurs by providing access to financing and training, and improving regional and global market links.

- Make sure women are remunerated by setting them up as co-owners, improving productivity, and providing training in core business skills.

- Increase women’s access to niche markets by producing and marketing women-only products.