Listening to Women Farmers
In 2022, we deepened our commitment to women farmers by initiating a study to better understand the needs of women in vegetable production.
Focusing on India, the Philippines, Tanzania, and Uganda, the study involved nearly 300 women farmers.
The first part of the study explored what an average day is like for women farmers, what decision-making power women have in regard to crop management and cash flow, women’s access to training opportunities and agricultural inputs, and the economic and social benefits of being a woman farmer.
The second part of the study focused on women farmers’ participation in and knowledge of crop protection, from weeding to scouting for pests and diseases to spraying of pesticides.
Women Farmers’ Daily Lives
One thing that quickly became clear was just how busy women farmers are. While the study found that women are participating in all activities connected to vegetable farming, they do not always get the full benefits of their work.
Between housework, caring for family and livestock, and crop management, women have very little time to attend trainings and increase their knowledge. In keeping with this reality, women farmers in India, Tanzania, and Uganda also felt that they knew less than men about the management of plant pests and diseases.
Recommendations from the report include increasing women’s access to farming knowledge, quality agricultural inputs, and finance, as well as incorporating a more extensive gender approach in EWS-KT activities.
Already, the study has resulted in concrete steps by our staff, such as holding more meetings and technical training sessions specifically for women farmers—and scheduling these events at times of day when more women are available.
Women Farmers Forward
Preliminary study findings were presented in October 2022 during East-West Seed’s Women Farmers Forward event, which brought together government officials, academics, the private sector, NGO representatives, and students in Amsterdam. Workshop participants at the event brainstormed ideas to move the study findings forward, and their feedback is summarized in the study report.
Expanding the Study
This study not only has provided direction on how we can advance the role of women in farming but offers an opportunity to raise awareness within the wider vegetable sector about gender in agriculture.
In 2023, we plan to expand the study to more countries, including Myanmar, and to share our findings with new stakeholders. We are also continuing to integrate what we learn into our programs to better engage women farmers and increase the number of women who find success in vegetable farming.