Women are key to agriculture in Africa

Women produce 70% of the food on the African continent, but they face many barriers to succeeding in the business arena.

Addressing their access to technology and upskilling them in “digital agriculture” tools will help increase their yields, income and resilience against shocks.

In a Daily Maverick article, Dr Mamello Nchake of the Department of Economics at Stellenbosch University, looks at the reasons women farmers in sub-Saharan Africa are less productive than men, and at ways to overcome the backlog.

She says women have unequal access to productive resources such as land, capital, networks and credit, relative to men. She urges “strategic, tailor-made pro-women interventions” and specifically digital solutions in agriculture, or digital agriculture.

Women-owned agricultural enterprises in Africa – particularly those from rural areas and less privileged backgrounds – often lack access to the training or digital skills needed to take advantage of technology and its benefits.

The article looks at initiatives in South Africa, Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya where digital technologies help to improve women’s access to information, boost their business productivity and facilitate outsourcing, resource-sharing and networking opportunities.

It includes a program in which MasterCard has committed to connect 25 million female entrepreneurs in Africa to the digital economy by 2025 through the provision of tools, financial literacy and training.

Dr Nchake concludes that African economies need to adopt some of the existing best practices and strategies that prevent women from leveraging the opportunities presented through digital transformation, and consequently worsen the gender divide in agriculture and agribusiness.