Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Unlocking opportunities in agribusiness by involving more women.
The global population is projected to rise more than 9 billion by 2050 and the demand for food expected to jump sharply, the need for addressing the challenges of food security assumes greater urgency now. There is also a growing need to adopt stronger measures to reduce the gender gap and more women should be included to bridge the gulf. Investing in Women in vaarious Agribusiness Value Chains, will increase productivity and efficiency in the agriculture sector by closing economic and social gaps between women and men throughout the value chain, from farm to retail and beyond. The solution to address two of the most pressing challenges of food security and gender disparity—isn’t difficult as it only involves women inclusion. Women comprise over 40 percent of the agricultural labor force worldwide and play a major role in agriculture but they face a variety of constraints, such as limited access to agricultural inputs, technologies, finance, and networks. There is an increasing number of companies now that recognizes that investing in women can help increase companies’ bottom lines—while helping improve the lives of people in rural areas. Agribusiness companies need support in identifying where and how they can close gender gaps in their value chain. In West African cocoa farms, for instance, women are responsible for drying cocoa beans, a crucial step in the processing of cocoa that determines the quality of the final product. To stabilize supply and formalize women’s contributions, chocolate producer Nestlé mapped the roles of women farmers in their supply chain in Côte d’Ivoire. Women are a strong consumer base as they are involved in buying and selling ,thus recognizing women as a customer base can result in market opportunities for agribusiness companies. Food-processing companies have already taken the lead in targeting the women’s market and building on consumers’ interest in gender-smart solutions. Successful gender programs, can be aimed at closing the gap between women and men, so both can benefit. Companies such as chocolate producer Mondelēz International partnered with IFC to identify the roles that women and men play in the cocoa sector and evaluate their contribution at various stages of the cocoa production process. Gender diagnostics can allow companies to evaluate gaps and define opportunities for women and men engaged in the agricultural production process and adjust companies’ gender programs accordingly. Gender-smart investments are part of the solution to address global challenges, as they can strengthen value chains, support global food supply, and improve livelihoods—with benefits accruing to both, farmers and companies.