April 23, 2017

When I tell people I am a farmer most people are surprised. First, they think I grew up on a farm, or second, I must not be a very good farmer. I mean, if you look at today's farming stereotypes, it shows a man sitting on a tractor, or who owns land and dictates what happens. Whenever someone has a question about growing food, they always seem to turn to my husband.

But the truth is, on our farm, I am the one who tracks all the planting, the seeding dates and the varieties that we need. This is just what I am good at. My husband is good with the people. He goes to market and he is excellent at selling food. I am the one who painstakingly tends to the irrigation and make sure germination happens in the field. If anyone asks him what variety of leek we grow, he will always turn to me.

So why do people assume it is a man's job anyways? It is a global condition that we are not given credit for the work that we do. Many women experience under pay, or no pay, lack of resources and land along with horrific abuse in the name of farming. Women have for centuries and continue to experience exploitation in the agricultural sector. We have a long way to go when it comes to being a farmer.

"On average, women comprise 43% of the agricultural labour force in many countries, ranging from 20% in Latin America to 50% in Eastern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. If they had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20–30%." (1)

"Research from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization shows that if women had the same access to non-land resources as male farmers, they could lift 100-150 million people out of hunger. And according to Landesa, when women farmers have secure land rights family nutrition improves, women become less vulnerable to contracting HIV/AIDS; they may be less likely to be victims of domestic violence; children, especially girls, are more likely to receive an education and stay in school longer; and women’s participation in household decision-making increases. " (1)

These statistic shows that women are powerfully needed in many of the issues our world faces today. When we have secure land rights, and own our farming business, we can drive communities out of food deserts and empower ourselves within our household and community.

I started farming when I was 25 years old. I didn't really know anything about farming. I was a traveler and a university student. The first season I started farming I didn't realize I would undergo a massive transformation. I can chop wood, use rototillers and weed-whackers. I know how to feed a lot of people.

 

Here are some stats to think about:

  • Women make up around two-thirds of the world's 600 million livestock keepers. (2)
  • In the UK, women add 41 per cent of the agricultural workforce, however own only 24 per cent of large farm holdings. (2)
  • Women are of vital importance to rural economies. Rearing poultry and small livestock and growing food crops, they are responsible for some 60% to 80% of food production in many countries. (3)
  • In many farming communities, women are the main custodians of knowledge on crop varieties. In some regions of sub-Saharan Africa, women may cultivate as many as 120 different plants alongside the cash crops that are managed by men. (4)

 

 

We still have a long way to go until equality is achieved. However, women have always been apart of agriculture, and will continue to make significant contributions to feeding the world.  By changing our attitudes to women who farm, by embracing and calling our rights and collectively holding each other up, we will be a stronger world for it.

We are not only women farmers, or farmer's daughters, or farmer's wives, we are farmers and we are damn good at it.

References


1., (8 April, 2014) www.ecowatch.com/6-initiatives-that-empower-women-in-agriculture-1881886662.html EcoWatch

2. Daniel Tapper, (www.independent.co.uk/news/world/international-womens-day-2016-female-farmers-from-peru-to-yorkshire-are-ploughing-new-furrows-a6917606.html Independant

3.Women and Rural Employment. Policy Brief 5. FAO, 2009

4. Natural Resources. FAO, Economic and Social Development Department

Group of handful of crops seeds in aerial view

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