Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)

Making CAADP Work for Women Farmers: A review of progress in six countries
April 2011

The Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) aims to revitalize African farming in order to reduce rural poverty and hunger. This is a massively important undertaking for a continent where a third of the population continue to struggle with chronic malnutrition. But is CAADP getting the right strategies, policies and funding in place to deliver its vision?

This report, based on research into CAADP-aligned plans in six countries, carried out for ActionAid by Overseas Development Institute and the Future Agricultures Consortium, finds that the initiative is succeeding in generating renewed attention and ambition for agriculture - a sector that was neglected and close to collapse only a few years ago. Much-needed investments and important policy reforms are on the cards.

However, the CAADP plans we reviewed pay little attention to the needs and rights of women farmers, despite the fact that women grow up to 80 percent of the food in Africa. They are largely silent on the problem of climate change. In some cases, they lack a clear poverty focus. These gaps need to be closed: they could reinforce, rather than reducing, rural impoverishment. In addition, money for implementation is woefully inadequate. Both governments and donors need to act quickly to allocate the funds necessary to get the plans off the ground, or the momentum created in the first years of the initiative will never translate into practical gains for Africa's smallholder farmers.

Africa's agricultural development: Why women's rights matter

It is widely recognised that the agricultural sector has a crucial role to play in the long-term development of most African countries. With over 80 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa dependent on the sector for their livelihoods, equitable agricultural growth is the best chance of fighting poverty.

The vast majority of rural poor in Africa are smallholders and the majority of these smallholders are women. African farmers struggle with many constraints. Among them are lack of access to modern technologies, capital investments and supportive research; lack of participation in decision making; and vulnerability to ecological shocks.

Farmers who are women face the added burden of juggling multiple responsibilities and systematic prejudice in land rights and political representation. To boost the agricultural sector and reduce poverty requires us to understand the specific issues facing women farmers (and smallholder farmers in general) and develop policies that enhance their rights and meet their needs.

Closing the gender gap in agriculture could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12-17 percent, thereby reducing the number of hungry by at least 100 million people, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Africa's agricultural development: Why climate adaptation matters

Global warming from climate change will hit African agriculture hard, as harsher, more frequent droughts and shorter growing seasons will reduce crop yields. Although some regions may benefit from warmer weather, crop yields are likely to fall by up to 50 percent in some African countries. The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that climate change could put 50 million extra people at risk of hunger by 2020, rising to an additional 266 million by 2080.

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