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Women playing key role as champions of Climate Smart Agriculture in Africa

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The Gender Climate Change and Agriculture Support Programme (GCCASP) of AUDA-NEPAD is helping in addressing policy and institutional gaps, building skills and capacities, amplifying women’s voices, and scaling innovative Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) practices. This is to foster a response to the climate change issue.

The program is helping to build capacities of female smallholder farmers, “creating and strengthening women platforms as well as investing in up-scaling of successful and innovative practices,” said the GCCASP Co-ordinator Edna Kalima in her presentation in a side event at the 14th Africa Day For Food and Nutrition Security (ADFNS) Commemoration and 19th Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) Partnership Platform held in Lusaka, Zambia.

She highlighted that the objective of the GCCASP is to support women Smallholder farmers (SHFs) to better cope with the impacts of climate change and climate variability and enhance women’s economic empowerment through increasing agricultural productivity.

Women in Africa are believed to be the backbone of small-scale agriculture and are responsible for planting and harvesting crops, tending to livestock, managing other aspects of the farm, and providing household income.

According to the Women, Agriculture, and Work in Africa publication by the World Bank Group, women’s labor share in African agriculture amounts to 60-80% and yet they make up 50% of the population.

During the panel discussion led by the Director of Agriculture Food Systems and Environmental Sustainability (AFSES), Estherine Lisinge-Fotabong brought out the key message that indeed GCCASP is important for Africa, as women contribute to the majority of agriculture production on the continent. However, their access to resources remains lower than men at less than 30%.

Through GCCASP, which avails several options and opportunities for change, women have been capacitated to take leadership positions and improve their decision-making and control of assets.

There has also been a formalization of women who operate informally in agriculture by forming cooperatives. “This has been key to accessing opportunities such as the capacity building of critical agricultural skills, loans, inputs, training, Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) technologies like the production of organic manure or fertilizers, information, coordination, and synergies for income generation.

There has been the formation of various platforms for climate action and climate networking, with women getting opportunities in agribusiness to “move up in various agricultural value chains while coping with climate change challenges.”

Smallholder women farmers are a critical mass for food security and nutrition on the continent hence the need to scale up the activities of the program.

The design of the programme which followed a multistakeholder approach is such that it came up with four intervention areas of implementation including; policy and institutional gaps, capacity building of smallholder farmers (SHFs), creation of women platforms, and investments in upscaling of successful and innovative practices.

The GCCASP has been implemented in five countries to date, namely, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Malawi, Niger and Rwanda. Twenty priority projects, four per country, and various priority trainings were conducted. The GCCASP has been supported with funding from Norad.

The program has seen impactful results for the women smallholder farmers, realizing improved food security and nutrition, increased incomes, increased resilience, improved climate-smart agricultural practices (CSA), amplifying women’s voices and decision-making, improved access to agriculture inputs, technologies, climate change information, and markets as well as strengthening coordination mechanisms in the Gender Ministries of the participating countries.

Judith Akolo
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