Former President John Dramani Mahama has encouraged women in Africa to fully take up agriculture as a means to enrich themselves, their families and achieve sustainable development for their countries.
Mr Mahama noted that women’s participation in agriculture is more critical as women in agricultural production in Africa are between 40 and 60 per cent.
Speaking at the Women in Agriculture Summit in Marrakech, Morocco on Tuesday, 12 September 2017, Mr Mahama said “Africa possesses about 600 million hectares of uncultivated arable land, amounting to about 60 per cent of the world total.”
According to him, the available arable land means Africa has the potential to, not only feed itself but, feed the rest of the world.
To achieve this, the former Ghanaian leader said not only women but also the youth must be attracted to invest and participate in agricultural production.
Mr Mahama identified land tenure system and unfair distribution of income as major challenges for women who want to invest in agriculture.
“Africa’s land tenure systems make it difficult for women to access and own land for agricultural purposes. Most land holding systems are male dominated. Women also have limited access to technology for modernised agriculture. Distribution of income in the agricultural value chain in many cases is tilted against women. For example, in Cote D’Ivoire, 60 per cent of labour on cocoa farms are women but they earn only 21 per cent of the income. In Ethiopia, 75 per cent of labour on coffee farms are also women but earn only 34 per cent of the income,” he stated adding that the “empowerment of women is not a privilege. It is a right.”
Mr Mahama further noted that no meaningful attainment of sustainable world development can be achieved without equal participation of women in all segments of human endeavour.
About 350 women participated in the summit meant to encourage women working to improve agriculture on the continent. The summit was also aimed at empowering other women and the youth to take up agriculture.