Wednesday April 9 2014

Studies show Uganda should do more for women farmers

A farmer in her garden in Nebbi. Women in Africa are the backbone for agricultural development.

A farmer in her garden in Nebbi. Women in Africa are the backbone for agricultural development. PHOTO BY FELIX WAROM OKELLO 

By Stephen Kafeero

Following a recent World Bank and ONE Campaign report showing a gender gap in agricultural productivity in selected African countries, including Uganda, a study by Forum for Women in Democracy (Fowode) has found that though women’s participation is highly encouraged under Naads, there are countless challenges that hinder them from effectively benefiting from the programme.

Benefit less
Women in Uganda benefit less than men, in terms of increased agricultural productivity, from extension advice that their households receive.

This suggests that current agricultural extension programmes may be better attuned to the needs of male farmers.

The Fowode study, “Tracking Agriculture Extension Grants in Uganda from a Gender Perspective”, concluded that some of the challenges are of a socio-economic nature and cannot be addressed by Naads.

Work together
But can be through an affirmative action that encourages women’s participation in the market-oriented and commercial farming.

Sophie Kyagulanyi, Fowode’s programme manager, Women in Leadership, says women in Uganda engage in agriculture primarily to get food and for food security.
This is an aspect ignored by many researchers and policy makers.

“Programmes like Naads need to be scaled down, such that women at the lowest level can benefit. Women also need to work in groups to access joint services and increase their bargaining power,” Kyagulanyi observes.
She adds that there is a need to revise the land ownership such that women can have a say on how land and its proceeds are managed, which she says is still male dominated.

Women farmers face many constraints such as lack of information about what to produce and how to produce to earn more money, access to credit and farm inputs, land ownership, access to markets, support from extension services, as well as poor yields as a result of use of rudimentary technologies.

Gradual process
Regardless, Alice Tibazalika, a consultant at Association of Uganda Professional Women in Agriculture and Environment, says the women do most of the agricultural work but when it comes to earning and making decisions, they do not benefit meaningfully and this holds back their progress.

Therefore, there should be a gradual process of sensitising

men and women at household level to ensure that they both participate meaningfully in the sector.