There are more than 80 million women farmers across Africa. The majority of these women work small farms on a hectare of land or less, often in challenging conditions. Generally, women farmers have a harder time accessing credit, fertilizer, and quality seeds than their male peers. As a result, their productivity is often much lower than that of farms run by men.
To close the productivity gender gap, women farmers need to be empowered to grow more and earn a better living. Which is why we partner with the nonprofit organization TechnoServe in Kenya to support the ‘Mavuno Zaidi’ (Grow More) program. Growers are trained on best practices for growing potatoes and tomatoes, which are an important source of income for more than 800,000 farmers across the country.
About one third of the trainers are women growers, who encourage other women to join the program. Because women often face additional hurdles in accessing finance from traditional sources, the program fills the gap through access to credit. With capital, they are able to invest in quality crop inputs to increase their farm productivity. Most importantly, the program helps farmers sell directly to market, which in turn draws a better price for their crop.
Not only are we actively recruiting female trainers but targeting women’s groups to join the program. Many of these are set up as savings and loan groups that support each other to improve farming practices and also get capital when traditional borrowing institutions refuse to lend (which is the case over 95% of smallholder farmers).
After just one year, growers in the program increased their net income per hectare of tomato by an average of 85%. Potato farmers increased their net income per hectare by an average of 45%.
The project reached 20,000 smallholder potato and tomato farmers in Kenya by the end of 2016.