Guest Post by: Tumi Frazier, founder of Tumi Frazier International
This week, Tumi Frazier writes her blog from the 24th African Union Summit held in South Africa, where she was an invited presenter on the topic of an inclusive value chain for women in the Agribusiness sector.
2015 has been declared the "Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa Agenda 2063" by the African Union and Heads of African States. A High Level Panel was set up this week to discuss the issue of financial inclusion of women in the Agriculture business sector.
Research shows that in Africa, 80% of agricultural production comes from small farmers who are mostly rural women. Yet, these women do not have access and control over land and productive resources, despite the fact that they comprise the largest percentage of the workforce in the agricultural sector.
"Women have to be included in the trade aspect of farming, including the processing and packaging, as this where the real money is." @TumiFrazier
My own particular focus at this year’s AU Summit as a presenter was on ensuring an inclusive value chain for women in the Agribusiness sector, and looking at how to expand women’s economic opportunities and participation for greater economic efficiency.
For women in the Agribusiness sector to have a great impact in the African economy, they need to be included in the entire spectrum of activities necessary to produce the end products that go to market, including information and finance.
Women have to be included in the trade aspect of farming, including the processing and packaging, as this where the real money is.
To make the critical move from poverty alleviation to wealth creation and to stimulate the exponential growth of these businesses, women need to farm not just tomatoes, but be in a position to be part of the entire value chain, also making the end products such as the tomato sauce, pastes, canned products and so forth.
The other important aspect of the value chain development involves linking these small women farmers to companies and creating a supportive and enabling business environment for them to enable them to thrive.
Financial inclusion on its own is not enough if there is no proper infrastructure such as roads to transport products, irrigation systems and other enabling technologies. One area that has seen a rapid infrastructural expansion and in the process enabling women farmers is in the use of mobile technologies, especially in Kenya where mobile phones are used for almost every transaction. Most market price information is now delivered to farmers via SMS. Mobile technologies can provide these women farmers with up to date agricultural information, which in turn improves the overall efficiency of the value chain.
It is also critical to provide tailored learning programmes that include personal development, entrepreneurship, relevant technical knowledge, coaching and mentorship of women in the Agribusiness sector. This will ensure better inclusion of women in decision making bodies in their communities and in the sector as a whole.
Tumi Frazier is a South African entrepreneur, professional speaker, author, TV personality, consultant, and founder of Tumi Frazier International, Tumi Leadership Academy, and Tumi Foundation. Tumi is an internationally acclaimed Leadership and Change Management expert who has worked with high profile clients and organizations across Africa, United States and Europe. Tumi has authored 4 books: Courageous Stories of Inspiration; In the Midst of the Storm; Stepping Stones to Success; and Your Moment. Follow Tumi Twitter | LinkedIn