Women in Agriculture: As Assessment of the Current State of Affairs in Africa
Agriculture continues to loom large in the development possibilities in Africa. It is therefore not surprising that global, continental, regional, and national governments have all embarked upon policy and institutional initiatives to address problems in agriculture so as to ensure that the sector makes its relevant contribution to the African development agenda. However, agriculture, like any economic activity, requires relevant resources and rewards for optimum performance. The availability of resources, particularly, human resources, is only a necessary condition to the development of the sector. A sufficient condition is the terms of accessibility to these resources. Women farmers constitute one vital human resource in African agriculture. This study examines the state of women in African agriculture, by focusing on how policy and institutional considerations frame the conditions of access to agricultural resources. The study first shows the missing links in the approaches to African women in agriculture. Second, the study discusses the relationship between access to resources and rewards and the contribution of women farmers to agricultural development, food security and the larger continental development agenda. Through the use of thematic variables, the study shows some of the constraints that affect the access of women farmers to critical variables in agricultural production and marketing. Finally, the study reiterates the importance of political leadership in improving the conditions of women farmers and outlines viable policy recommendations that recognize and address the multiple roles and challenges African women farmers are confronted with in the agricultural sector in particular and national development in general.