The importance of supporting women farmers

The International Potato Center has helped boost yields of over 25,000 women in Malawi in the last 2 years. Not only do they have access to clean, disease-free planting material, by working as a group they learn off each other and have access to greater markets.The potato is an increasingly important crop among smallholder farmers in Africa, where production has increased from two million tons in 1960 to 30 million tons in 2013. As women are active in smallholder farming across Africa, the needs of women farmers and their roles in households will need to be taken seriously if Africa is to harness the potato’s potential to boost incomes and improve food security.

This is the key message in the chapter “Supporting smallholder women farmers in potato cultivation,” written by a group of researchers that includes Paul Demo, the regional director for Africa at the International Potato Center. Demo and his co-authors highlight the enormous potential of women to contribute to food security and development in Africa, which is why crop breeders need to keep women’s needs and preferences into account when developing and selecting new potato varieties.

The authors review the challenges that women face and offer strategies for enabling them to benefit from training, access resources and take advantage of opportunities to apply their knowledge. The chapter makes an important contribution to the literature on gender-responsive approaches to crop breeding and research for development.

The chapter is part of the book “Achieving sustainable cultivation of potatoes, Volume 1: Breeding improved varieties,” edited by Gefu Wang-Pruski and published by Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing Limited.

Consult the chapter