Women in agriculture frequently face gender-specific obstacles worldwide. Impediments such as lack of access to land, education and finance often put women farmers at a disadvantage before they ever put a plough to a field or sow a seed in the ground. This gender gap imposes significant costs on society in terms of lost agricultural output, food security and economic growth. For Africa to fulfill the 2030 sustainable development goal (SDG) agenda, the empowerment of women agripreneurs must be placed at the centre of policy making, and then carefully monitored to ensure implementation and achieved outcomes.
Mindful of the challenge ahead, Corteva Agriscience commissioned a study in 2018 across 17 countries, examining the causes of gender inequality in agriculture. The top three constraints identified were access to land, finance and leadership training. The company’s corporate 2030 sustainability goals not only commit to engaging with, and supporting women farmers to increase their productivity, incomes and sustainable agricultural practices, but also to empowering women within their communities wherever Corteva Agriscience operates. Mindful that the company cannot make the required impact alone, collaborative partnerships with many organisations have been launched to develop and deliver supportive solutions for women farmers worldwide.
In 2021, the Gordon Institute of Business Science’s (GIBS) Entrepreneurship Development Academy (EDA) was selected as Corteva Agriscience’s South African partner to teach business, managerial, entrepreneurial and leadership development skills to women agripreneurs. To raise public awareness of women’s success in agriculture and to air policy issues relating to the advancement of women in the sector across Africa, four thought leadership roundtable events were held between March and November 2021.
The roundtable events were held under the following themes:
- Creating an enabling environment for women entrepreneurs in agriculture
- Humble Hustlers – Anecdotes from accomplished farmers
- Flourishing Farmers – Harvesting a future in farming
- – Setting the table to address agriculture’s triple challenge
Keynote speakers, in order, were:
- South Africa’s Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thokozile Didiza, MP
- Nigerian agripreneur, Ndidi Nwuneli, founder of Leadership, Effectiveness, Accountability, and Professionalism (LEAP) Africa, co-founder of AACE Foods and managing partner of Sahel Consulting Agriculture & Nutrition Ltd.
- Ghanaian rural women’s rights and food security champion, Lydia Sasu, founder and executive director of Noyaa Kpee (Development Action Association in English)
- Kenya-based Vanessa Adams, VP of Strategic Partnerships and Chief of Party, Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa at the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).