By David Ssempijja
Local organisations involved in boosting job creation efforts are considering pushing for the increased the number of women in the agribusiness sphere, a move directed at mitigating the countries levels of unemployment.
The reasons for looking out for more women in commercial agriculture are premised on the fact that over 75% of women in Uganda are involved in agriculture, but more of them practicing it at subsistence level, leaving the commercial farming segment for men, a case that is detrimental to the country’s agribusiness development initiatives, yet the sector is one of the key drivers of Uganda’s economy, according to Dr. Martin Kasaato, a local agribusiness development expert.
Ann Dela Apekey, a gender equality specialist at the Ghana based Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa says that any country seeking to boost its economic progress has to get as many women as possible into the bracket of commercial agriculture, given that women are the world’s poorest, a challenge that must be confronted through creating jobs for them along various nodes of the agricultural value chains.
“It’s common knowledge that agriculture is a source of our livelihood for it provides us with food, but on the other hand, the activity, if commercialized, serves as a source of money. Over 70% of the world’s poorest are women and the best remedy for this challenge is devising means of getting them into agribusiness jobs,” she said.
Dela was recently in the country to train members of the Consortium for enhancing University Responsiveness to Agribusiness Development (CURAD) on matters the relevancy of gender mainstreaming in agribusiness.
“Women’s involvement in agribusiness may not necessarily mean they have to be only in farms, there many roles along the agricultural value chain for example in agro- processing, if a woman is not a business owner, let her be an employee and society ought to refrain from perceiving women as a segment of cheap labour,” she says.
CURAD, according to the body founding director Joseph Nkandu, is striving to get more women into agribusiness, targeting to work with not less than 40% of women within the institutional incubatee members the body serves.
CURAD was established out of a partnership of Makerere University, National Agricultural Research Organisation and The National Union for Coffee Agribusiness and Farm Enterprises to shape the agriculture curriculum into empowering students with value addition and marketing skills, a strategy that is further expanded deep into the private agricultural Small and Medium Enterprises.
At NUCAFE, a national coffee agribusiness body, a special gender office was reserved for women to enhance attention to them and confront their range of challenges.
Formation of women farmer groups is key in helping them develop through agribusiness and pushing for Access to land, technologies, information and education, responsiveness of value chain development systems as well as flexible financing.
Other organisations that seek to boost women into agribusiness include The Agribusiness Initiative (aBi) Trust, Enterprise Uganda, a business training arm of government, Private Sector Foundation Uganda, Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association, Association of Uganda Professional Women in Agriculture and Environment among others.