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

Salzburg Global Seminar
"Transforming Agricultural Development and Production in Africa: Closing Gender Gaps and Empowering Rural Women in Policy and Practice."
18 November 2011
Salzburg Global Seminar (SGS)

The Salzburg Global Seminar (SGS) convened experts from 21 countries to discuss "Transforming Agricultural Development and Production in Africa: Closing Gender Gaps and Empowering Rural Women in Policy and Practice." The conference ended on a high note yesterday with a strong call for implementation of concrete action plans.

This comes amid the realization that agriculture is the "big business of the future" and that rural women need to be empowered to seize the opportunities in this sector and to boost global food security.

Recent reports by the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Bank provide evidence of the strong link between empowering rural women in Africa and a significant increase in agricultural production and food security.

After vigorous debates over three days at the historic venue of Leopoldskron palace in Salzburg, the experts were in strong agreement that African governments and NGOs need to implement effective policies that empower rural women in agriculture.

Dr. Makaziwe Mandela, the daughter of former South African president Nelson Mandela, delivered rousing calls to the participants and gender practitioners across the continent that the time for practical solutions had arrived.

"We now need to focus on the things that work. We have plenty of best practices across the continent and those need to be replicated and scaled up. There is a lot hope for rural women in Africa," she said.

"Unless rural women in Africa become part of the decision making process, then very little progress can be made in boosting agriculture in Africa," added Dr. Mandela.

A lot of efforts to empower rural women in Africa involved in agriculture are ongoing, but most of them lack coordination thus making their impacts limited. This sparked a strong call for practitioners in Africa to better leverage their mutual synergies from institutionalized networks and to avoid the trap of unnecessary duplication of efforts.

IFAD's technical advisor on gender and social equity, Maria Hartl, expressed confidence that proposals that emerged from Salzburg may be considered for funding if they are found to have a serious potential of changing the fortunes of rural women in Africa.

Experts were in strong agreement that the image of agriculture needs to be revamped in order to attract attention from young people as a career option. Research from IFAD indicates that unless the rural youth are enticed to take up agriculture, the future of this sector as well as overall global food security is in peril.

"Agriculture has been associated with poverty and those without formal education. Time has come for a serious information and marketing campaign to spruce up the image of the agriculture and make it attractive to the youth as much as Medicine and Engineering," said Oliver Oliveros, in charge of international relations at Agropolis Foundation in France.

Notes to Editors

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Salzburg Global Seminar

The Salzburg Global Seminar (SGS) was founded in 1947 to encourage intellectual re-engagement in post-war Europe. From that first summer in Salzburg, Austria, a year-round program emerged that has convened hundreds of seminar sessions and more than 27,000 participants on its historic campus anchored by Schloss Leopoldskron - an 18th-century palace which, from 1918 to 1938, was home to Max Reinhardt, co-founder of the Salzburg Festival. During the Cold War, Salzburg provided a neutral space where East and West could meet and freely explore contending ideas. Since 1989, it has become a global institution, bringing together present and future leaders from all regions of the world to test their ideas and seek solutions to global problems.

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