Access to reliable data and market information is being described as vital in the drive towards making Africa’s rural economies more equitable and sustainable.
This has come out of a virtual panel discussion on the same, that was hosted by UN women and Standard Bank.
Through their Climate Smart Agriculture programme, UN Women and Standard Bank are equipping women farmers in Africa with the skills and resources needed to grow their operations and succeed in a changing climate.
In January 2019, the organisations partnered with the aim of empowering more than 50,000 women farmers in Malawi, Uganda, Nigeria and South Africa through modern and environmentally friendly farming technologies that increase yields and incomes across the value chain.
According to the Head of Relationship Banking at Standard Bank Malawi Graham Chipande, apart from access to quality farmlands and other challenges, access to information has been identified as one of the biggest barriers to Africa’s small-scale women farmers.
This gap is particularly information and data on yields, soil health and weather patterns among others.
“We have been greatly privileged to learn from the farmer groups about the challenges and opportunities that exist in their space and explore how we can help to uplift their efforts,” Chipande said.
Chipande observed that the information gap makes it more difficult for many women farmers to achieve healthy selling prices, and to access financial services products.
“By better equipping women farmers to understand consumer patterns, they stand a much better chance of being able to innovate and rise to the demand that’s why we are working no bringing farmers closer to the end consumer by removing information barriers in the value chain,” added Chipande.
Meanwhile, Nidhi Tandon, Socio-economic Advisor for the East and Southern Africa Region at UN Women, highlighted that African farmers are at the frontline of climate change, which means interventions are needed to help them adopt more sustainable practices while also adapting to changing weather patterns.
She further added that the project is providing women farmers with access to drought-resistant seeds and more environmentally friendly fertilizers.
“Further, climate change could impact women farmers more than men given that women tend to carry more household and other responsibilities as a result, UN Women is launching similar initiatives in other markets and regions,” Tandon said.
So far in Malawi, close to 6,000 women farmers have received support in the use of high-yield and drought-resistant groundnut seeds and the implementation of modern farming methods that conserve moisture and maximise land use.
Support has also been given on the use of weather forecast information for the timely planting of groundnuts, use of market information and financial literacy sessions as well adoption of modern farming technologies.