Women give higher importance to feeding their families and educating their childrenthan men do. Women are also more pragmatic. For example, while men may dream of owning a cow, women will get on with the business of raising sheep, goats or poultry and providing good nutrition for their families and boosting their family income.
Studies have shown that a US$10 increase in a woman’s income improves the nutrition and health of her children by as much as a US$110 increase in a man’s income.  Yet women face numerous barriers to achieving higher income. Across Sub-Saharan Africa, only 15 per cent of landholders are women. Moreover, lack of collateral is at the root of many of their constraints such as poorer access to education, finance and advisory services and the like.
Closing this ‘gender gap’ could increase yields on women-owned farms by 20 to 30 per cent, which could reduce the number of hungry people by 100 to 150 million. And because they bring a different perspective – a screwdriver rather than a hammer – women often create innovative solutions that had not occurred to men. Take, for example, Lovin Kobusingye, founder of the fish processing business Kati Farms Ltd in Uganda. Her idea for fish sausages created a whole new market and reinvigorated fishfarming in the country.
Imagine how we can transform agriculture and food security across Africa if we bring the power of women and youth to bear on the challenges we face. The future looks bright.
Most people born since the mid-1990s have probably never known a world without smartphones – one of the key technologies that are opening up opportunities for giving farmers access to agricultural knowledge and advice, weather forecasts, digital banking, market information and the like. And these young people are the ones who are tech savvy and can develop these solutions.
But because of limited funds and training, young people are hampered by lack of opportunities and access to the skills and resources they need to take their enthusiasm from idea to successful enterprise. The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) has been supporting youth in agriculture through initiatives such as Pitch AgriHack and the centre’s focus on the use of new technologies such as drones to facilitate agricultural transformation in Africa.
Michael Hailu has been director of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) since May 2010. He has more than 30 years of experience in agricultural research, communications and development in Africa and Asia. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org
This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa English desk.