Wednesday 14 April 2021
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Women, the backbone of agriculture

Women remain the backbone of agriculture in Africa, producing 80% of its food. But discriminatory laws and practices deprive many African women of their land and rights.
A document titled ‘Understanding Poverty’ released by the World Bank Group has noted that agriculture raises incomes and improves food security for 80 percent of the world’s poor.
It is no secret that women play a major role in ensuring that the world benefits largely from agriculture, by either being in the forefront running commercial agribusinesses or participating in traditional farming to feed their families.
Women make up almost fifty percent of the world’s farmers. In Namibia, a 2013/14 Namibia Census Agricultural report covering both communal and commercial farming throughout the country revealed that with a population of 907 715 agricultural households, 417 566 (54 percent) were headed by women.
It further revealed that the agricultural population of women in the northern areas of the country was more than that of the men.
As the world evolves, the idea of women not being fit enough to take on male dominated farming is however becoming a story of the past as the productivity rate of women in farming is steadily increasing.
‘If it was not for women in the agricultural sector, Namibia would not last in terms of food production and security,” said independent agricultural expert Wallie Roux.
Roux, a former secretary of the Namibia Agricultural Union, spoke to this publication on various aspects surrounding women in agriculture and noted that when it comes to the topic of women in agriculture it is always best to split it into two parts namely commercial farming and traditional farming.
In commercial farming, Roux highlighted that women are mostly likely to be the key players behind the scenes aiming to assist where they can to grow economies whereas in traditional farming which requires more direct input, women tend to do more physical work by digging for crops in order to put food on the table.
“In commercial farming women only partake in physical work on a small scale but this is not because they do not want to do more but because there are barriers that prohibit them from doing so.
In commercial farming women do work such as taxation and draw up lists that need to be audited by Agra.
In traditional farming women are more active, they run farms on their own and they do crop farming.
It is very rare to see men contributing to the preparations for crop farming because they are only seen walking grazing cattle” he said.
He explained that in both types of farming the productivity rate is excellent, in a sense that the majority of women in agriculture are very much involved in farming.
Roux further highlighted that due to the nature of the practical agricultural work, women are not as involved in international trade agreements, agricultural trade forums and are the main negotiators in agriculture.
Although women still face challenges such as, overcoming traditional norms that dictate if there is enough room for more women to take up farming, Roux noted that the challenges can be worked through even if farming differs in practise.
“Even if commercial farms are headed by men, women are needed to give advice to their male counter parts where they end up working well as a team.
Traditionally we still need to work towards moving past the notion where women are expected to not farm because they need to look after the children at home,” concluded Roux.

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