Women and the Role of Husbandry for Stronger Community-led Development

THP-Burkina Faso’s Director,  Evariste Lebende Yaogho, with program participant.

We live in a world where women still continue to fight for equal rights. They are not given the option to make decisions and their needs are only secondary to men. According to the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), women comprise an average of 43 percent of the agricultural labour force of developing countries up to almost 50 percent in Eastern and Southeastern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Women produce more than half of all the food that is grown but ironically, a greater number of the world’s hungry are women.

In many rural communities, women are not granted the freedom to generate their own income or even leave the confines of their home. A huge number of them are illiterate because they are denied to receive an education. They are mandated to spend most of their days care-giving and perform other household responsibilities. They have to face different challenges on the road in order to achieve literacy. When they grow up, their daughters go through the same oppression: a cycle of poverty. It can be very difficult to break that cycle given that a girl’s future is determined by the time she takes her first breath.

The Hunger Project believes that development requires gender equality. This begins with empowering women. When women join the working sector there is an increase in economic productivity. One of the Hunger Project’s most recent initiatives, “Projet d’appui à la production animale dans les Communes de Arbollé et de Kirsi (PAPA/AK),” is a twelve month project funded by FAO that attempts to break the cycle of poverty through livestock husbandry. Fifty have chosen 3 rams during a community fair, each benefiting from the inclusion of monthly health monitored for each animal.

Educating whole communities, including men, about the benefits of empowering women can affect a critical social mindset shift to improve household income and bring families out of poverty. This can also lead to different possibilities and opportunities for women to build greater agency and roles within her community.  Women empowerment does not equal to male inferiority. Women empowerment seeks the closure of gender-gaps that consequently results to development and betterment of the lives of women, men, families and communities.

Heifer International, co-founder of the Movement for Community-led Development with The Hunger Project, also aims to empower citizens and communities at the grassroots level to become agents of change for the eradication of world hunger and poverty. They strengthen local economies by distributing livestock and leading husbandry trainings to help families become self reliant. Heifer also provides veterinary services to project participants to maximize benefits and reduce livestock mortality rates.

According to the U.N. Development Programme, “when women have equal access to education, and go to participate fully in business and economic decision-making, they are a key driving force against poverty.” A community cannot meet full development unless women receive the same treatment and opportunities as men. Women posses the essential skills for development, they just need the transition to reach that goal.

The Hunger Project’s recent animal donation project with FAO places particular priority on women, as it empowers them to become financial providers for their family. It generates opportunities for women to cut the cycle of poverty and hunger, and an opportunity for them to participate to fostering equality and breaking the norms of inferiority. They become the key agents of their own development and the innovator their community needs.

The State Of Food And Agriculture 2014: Innovation in family farming

SOFA-2014-cover-web-en_01FAO’s 2014 report on The State Of Food and Agriculture (SOFA 2014) focuses on the vital role of family farms for food security, poverty reduction, and environmental sustainability. The report states more than 500 million family farms manage the majority of the world’s agricultural land  and produce most of the world’s food. That group constitutes 90% of the world’s farmers. Family farms occupy around 70 – 80 percent of farmland and produce more than 80 percent of the world’s food in value terms.

The vast majority of the world’s farms are small and in many lower-income countries farm sizes are shrinking. Globally, farms of less than 5 hectare account for 94 percent of all farms but control only 19 percent of all agricultural land. In contrast, only 1 percent of all farms in the world are larger than 50 hectares, but these few farms control 65 percent of the world’s agricultural land. Many of these large farms are family-owned and operated.

In most countries, small and medium-sized farms tend to have higher agricultural crop yields per hectare than larger farms because they manage resources and use labor more effectively, however they produce less per worker. SOFA 2014 assesses the innovation needed to improve labor productivity. The development, adaptation and application of new technologies and farm management practices, and the wider application of existing technologies and practices, are cited as the pathways towards efficiency in labor productivity, natural resource management and environmental
sustainability as well as food security.

The report sets the following prerequisite circumstances as a backdrop for family farming innovation;

  • Family farms are an extremely diverse group, and innovation systems must take this diversity into account.
  • The challenges facing agriculture and the institutional environment for agricultural innovation are far more complex than ever before; the world must create an innovation system that embraces this complexity
  • Public investment in agricultural research and development and extension and advisory services should be increased and refocused to emphasize sustainable intensification and closing yield and labor productivity gaps.
  • All family farmers need an supportive environment for innovation, including good governance, stable macroeconomic conditions, transparent legal and regulatory regimes, secure property rights, risk management tools and market infrastructure
  • Capacity to innovate in family farming must be promoted at multiple levels.
  • Individual innovation capacity must be developed through investment in education and training.
  • Effective and inclusive producers’ organizations can support the innovation of their members.

According to FAO 2014 is the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF), which aims to highlight the role of family farmers in achieving food security and sustainable development.

Below is a sample table showing the agricultural labor productivity of THP program countries and the world based on income grouping. 

You can review the complete report here!

Average annual level(Constant 2004–06 international dollars) Average annual rate of change(Percentage)
Countries 1981–1991     1991– 2001    2001–2012 1981–1991     1991– 2001   2001–2012
Low income 416                419                  490 –0.2                    0.7                 1.9
Lower middle  income 937                902                  1057 1.4                      0.5                 2.3
Upper Middle income 720                1003                 1454 1.3                      3.7                 3.5
World 1141               1261                1535 0.4                      1.7                 2.1
Low and middle income 755                 879                  1144 1.2                      2.2                 2.8
Bangladesh 333                 378                  537 0.2                      2.9                 3.6
Benin 658                 831                  1046 2.0                      3.9                 1.4
Bolivia 1194                1362               1530 1.5                       0.8                1.2
Burkina Faso 270                  334                 370 3.9                       0.4               –0.7
Ethiopia                        216                  265                            0.9                 2.6
Ghana 615                  841                 1010 2.6                       1.6                 1.8
India 555                 658                  763 1.8                       1.5                 2.7
Malawi 319                 344                  494 –1.6                      5.9                 3.9
Mexico 2390               2803                 3797 0.5                        2.9                 2.6
Mozambique 202                 210                  267 –0.7                      4.2                 3.1
Peru 1304               1401                 2000 –0.6                      4.1                 3.7
Senegal 370                 337                  328 0.0                        0.4                 1.7
Uganda 502                 504                  517 –0.2                     0.5               –1.1

805 Million Still Suffering from Hunger: The 2014 State of Food Insecurity in the World

SOFI-2014-Cover-300-resize
Image courtesy of FAO

United Nations2014 State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI 2014) Report confirmed that there are still 805 million people – more than half of whom are in Asia – suffering from chronic malnourishment.This report is published annually by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP). According to the report, one in nine people are severely undernourished; in Sub Saharan Africa the ratio is higher at more than one in four.

However, the report notes that there has been a decrease in the number of people suffering from chronic undernourishment by 200 million since 1992. Most progress has been made in Latin America and the Caribbean Islands, whereas Oceania has made only modest improvement. Overall, this indicates a positive trend in the fight against hunger.

This year’s report consists of case studies on the following seven countries: Bolivia, Brazil, Haiti, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malawi and Yemen. The case studies explain trends of food security based on internal efforts and external economic, political and environmental events.

The report states, “to date, 63 developing countries have reached the MDGs target for hunger, and six more are on track to reach it by 2015.” Halving the proportion of undernourished people by 2015 might be possible if measures are fueled up.

The complex nature of food insecurity requires a multi sectoral approach that engages CSOs, and public and private organizations. The report recommends an “enabling environment and an integrated approach.” Specifically, the following should leverage combined public and private investments:

  • agricultural productivity
  • access to land, services, technologies and markets
  • measures to promote rural development
  • social protection for the most vulnerable
  • strengthening resilience for conflicts and natural disasters.

Lastly, the report also stresses the fundamental importance of nutrition programs to address micronutrient deficiencies of mothers and children under five.

Further discussion will be held on the findings of the report by governments, civil society, and private sector representatives at the 13-18 October meetings of the Committee on World Food Security at FAO headquarters in Rome. The Hunger Project is among the organizations taking part in the meetings.