African women in many countries supply 80% of the agricultural output. The emancipation of women is essential to the development of the continent.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
By KELVIN CHONGO
THE USAID-funded Land O’ Lakes says women in rural Zambia provide the largest population of agricultural labour and produce about 70 per cent of its food.
Land O’ Lakes communications manager, Veronica Mwaba said women also perform almost 60 per cent of the marketing and do at least half of the tasks involved in storing food and raising animals.
Ironically, only 20 per cent of these women were direct recipients of extension advice and the money realised from such ventures.
Agricultural research institutes have studied the workload of women in dairy farming and its implications for the development of dairy farming in the country.
She said the studies showed that while men owned over 80 per cent of the farms, 84 per cent of dairy operators were women. On the farms where extension messages were delivered to men, three-quarters of the dairy operators were still women.
Across all the farms, 48 per cent of the people interviewed said women did all or most of the dairy work, 25 per cent said hired labourers did most of the work and 22 per cent said it was children who provided most of the labour.
Ms Mwaba said the study also showed that only five per cent said husbands did most of the work in the dairy unit.
She said extension officers reported that some female dairy operators lacked capacity and enthusiasm in following extension advice. The lack of interest was compounded by the fact that they derived little personal rewards from their efforts in the dairy enterprise.
Any strategy for increasing dairy production in the country must take into account that many, if not most small-holder units, are managed by women and that these women must be involved in defining the research agenda to make sure their needs are taken into account.
Ms Mwaba also said dairy farming must be supported as a way of creating more employment opportunities in the country.
She said if the industry collapses, it could worsen unemployment.
Land O’ lakes has been supporting the dairy industry in Zambia and promoting small-scale farmers, especially women.