Investing in women farmers key to halving hunger

Investing in women smallholder farmers is the key to halving hunger and results in twice as much growth as investment in any other sector, a new ActionAid report reveals.

Less than one per cent of the agriculture budget is targeted at women in the three countries researched by ActionAid in its new report Fertile Ground – Malawi, Kenya and Uganda – despite women’s central contribution to the growing of food.

“One billion people going hungry must be a wake-up call that there’s something very wrong with our farming,” said Tennyson Williams, Acting Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “Despite recent commitments, donor aid to agriculture is still too little, uncoordinated and arrives too late. It has also been poorly targeted and remains hugely inconsistent with the realities of women’s role in food production.”

At the moment, virtually nothing is being spent on research into crops grown by women, training, credit, early childhood education and access to land, despite food price hikes and shortages likely to worsen as climate change intensifies.

Fertile Ground shows that 2.9 million Ugandans could be lifted out of poverty by 2015 if the country reached a six per cent agricultural growth rate annually.

In Kenya, 1.5 million lives could be improved, if current sums on agriculture rose from 5 to 10 per cent.

In stark contrast, Malawi is one of Africa’s highest spenders on agriculture and as a result food security is better than at any time in recent history. In 2004, 1.5 million people needed food aid while in 2009, this number had dropped to 150,000 people.

ActionAid believes that by scaling up support to smallholders to at least $40 billion per year globally, world leaders can deliver a 50 percent reduction hunger and poverty by 2015 – the most fundamental of the UN Millennium Goals.

Download: Fertile Ground Report

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