Celebrating Women in Agriculture

by Toluwalemi Oluwadare and Olalekan Abdulsalami. on 30 Apr 2019 • 1 comments
4 min read

Women play a vital role in agriculture and the rural economy in surmounting the many food security challenges we have today. In the past, women have contributed immensely — physical labour, farming, holding the family together — in villages, towns, cities, and communities at a time when respect, opportunities and recognition was a lot harder to gain than it is now.

Aside from working to take care of their families, women also take care of a bigger family - the world's growing population. If you have had a fruit or vegetable today, there’s a 43% chance it was produced by a female farmer. In Africa, several post-harvest processes are always characterized by women involvements like the making of Garri (cassava flakes), oil palm processing, breaking of groundnut pods.

Here is a cross-section of the impact made by women in agriculture:

  • Studies have shown that women account for nearly half of the world’s smallholder farmers and produce 70% of Africa’s food.

  • Nearly one-third of farmers in the United States are women. That’s close to a million female farmers across the country, generating about $12.9 billion in annual agricultural sales.

  • On average, the female share of labour input into crop production in Nigeria is 37%; Uganda, 56%; Tanzania, 52% and Malawi, 52%.

  • The UN’s FAO has estimated that if women were given the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase the yield on their farms by 20-30% which could, in turn, reduce the number of hungry people in the world.

  • According to FAO estimates, women farmers will increase their yields by 20-30 per cent if given equal access to inputs and resources.

  • Closing the gender yield gap could feed an estimated 130 million people.


Today, there are women in all sectors in the agriculture industry, from classrooms to owners and operators in agribusinesses. However, there are still barriers that hinder their full participation in solving the problems in Agriculture. Here is a handful;

  • Studies have shown that women account for nearly half of the world’s smallholder farmers and produce 70% of Africa’s food. On average, the female share of labour input into crop production in Nigeria is 37%, Uganda 56%, Tanzania 52% and Malawi 52%. Yet, less than 20% of land in the world is owned by women.
  • Across Africa, access to, and ownership of land by women is often problematic. This is because land is acquired mostly through inheritance which is determined by family and cultural norms that majorly recognizes male children as capable of inheriting which leaves women at a disadvantage. In Kenya, 65% of land is governed by customary laws that discriminate against women and limits their land and property rights. This implies that women farmers can only have access to land through their husbands or sons. 
  • According to FAO, women are often paid less than men, for the same work.

  • The nature of tasks, such as caring for children and elderly household members, requires women to stay near the home, thus limiting options to work for a wage.

Celebrating Women in Agriculture

It is important for us to note the critical contributions of women to farming and agriculture in Nigeria and Africa. Today, we feature a few prominent women making progress in Agriculture.

  1. Dr Agnes Kalibata

Dr Agnes Kalibata is the president of AGRA, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. She was the former minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources for Rwanda where she was considered one of the most successful agriculture ministers in Sub-Saharan Africa due to her track record as an agricultural scientist, policymaker and for her grassroots transformation.

She was named one of the most influential Africans of 2018.
She sits on various international boards such as the International Fertilizer Development Corporation (IFBS), Bioversity International and Africa Risk Capacity among others.

    2.  Sara Mbago-Bhunu

Sara Mbago-Bhunu is the Director of IFAD’s (International Fund for Agricultural Development) East and Southern Africa Division. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from Maastricht School of Management, the Netherlands, and a BSc in Agricultural Economics from the University of Reading, United Kingdom.

Sara Mbago-Bhunu has worked on agriculture policy and sector reviews, value chain development, access to agricultural finance, social enterprise models and the promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises in peri-urban and rural areas. 

At Crop2Cash, we are personally invested in celebrating and promoting remarkable women in Agriculture and generally in the world at large. We do this through our #womancrushwednesday series on social media that recognizes and celebrates smart, innovative and successful women in Africa.

Tweet us who you think should be our next #womancrushwednesday. Do you know any inspiring woman who is playing their part in solving the many problems in agriculture? Share their success stories on social media and be sure to tag @Crop2Cash to repost.

Kindly add in the comment below any woman you think is doing awesome and deserves to be profiled. 

  1. Agricultural Development Economics Division, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. March 2011. The Role of Women in Agriculture: Prepared by the SOFA Team and Cheryl Doss, ESA Working Paper No. 11-02.

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  1. Gbenga Boluwajoko

    01 May 2019 AT 08:24 AM

    This is great more females should be encourage

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