Life Money

Women, farming and success in Africa

August 5, 2016

How people make ends meet is always different. Of course there are large categories we fit into, but individually the way we earn is as varied as the people themselves. To that end, we should examine what matters in terms of earning a living. We shouldn’t think particular jobs are automatically better or worse, but see it from a much broader perspective. This is especially the case when it comes to women in male-dominated areas.

From office to farms

Consider Richard Nunekpeku. As How We Made It In Africa reports, he is a Ghanian who “was employed full time, but managed his agribusiness remotely and visited the farm on weekends.” In 2015, “he quit his job as marketing manager at Samsung, overseeing five West African countries, to concentrate on building his farming venture.”

When we think of farming in Ghana, surpassing a comfortable office job is not one of the first associations we’d make. Yet, that is precisely what Mr Nunekpeku did. What this tells us is that appearances can be deceiving.

If it works for Mr Nunekpeku, it can work for anyone – for our purposes, we are concerned with women.

Farming and women

As Farm Africa reports: “More than 60% of employed women in Sub-Saharan Africa work in agriculture.”

This means there is less opportunity for a woman to succeed in the same way Mr Nunekpeku did. This is an unfortunate reality that must be changed. Unfortunately, that means a lot of hard work that businesses themselves must begin focusing on. We need trailblazers and role models in order to show how other women can reach better positions.

This is especially true in male-dominated arenas like business and farming. Indeed, one report about sub-Saharan Africa found data supporting the difficulties imposed on women trying to make a lucrative career in farming. As the World Bank reports:

“the report found that productivity on women’s’ farms is significantly lower per hectare compared to men, ranging from 13% in Uganda to 25% in Malawi. Even though women make up a large share of Africa’s farmers, they tend to be locked out of land ownership, access to credit and productive farm inputs like fertilizers, pesticides and farming tools, support from extension services, and access to markets and other factors essential to their productivity.”

Farming can be more lucrative, but unfortunately there are more barriers for women to overcome before that be a reality.

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