Despite complications brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, UN Women and Standard Bank are making progress to equip women farmers in Africa with the skills and resources needed to grow their businesses and succeed over the long term.
In October 2019, Standard Bank and UN Women partnered to empower over 50,000 women farmers in Malawi, Uganda, Nigeria and South Africa through modern and environmentally friendly farming technologies that increase productivity and incomes.
Through the Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) collaboration, women farmers, authorities, local farmer organisations and cooperatives are addressing the structural inequalities in rural economies in Africa, starting with the difficulties that women face in securing tenure for quality farm land.
Standard Bank has provided funding worth US$3 million as well as ongoing support through financial literacy and other programmes.
“The CSA project supports Standard Bank’s drive to create a gender-equal Africa and aligns with our purpose of driving the continent’s growth,” said Sola David-Borha, Chief Executive of Africa Regions at Standard Bank Group. “We believe it will meaningfully contribute to the upliftment of communities and the achievement of sustainable economic growth across Africa.”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, digital technology is being used to conduct meetings where possible, and messages are being delivered via community radio stations, SMSs and marketing material.
The project is closely aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, with its focus on gender equality, access to decent work, and economic growth.
In Malawi, close to 6,000 women farmers have received support in in the use of high-yield and drought-resistant groundnut seeds; implementation of modern farming methods that conserve moisture and maximise land use; use of weather forecast information for the timely planting of groundnuts; use of market information and financial literacy sessions; the adoption of modern farming technologies.
In Nigeria, the project is currently supporting 2,300 women beneficiary agri-business groups and cooperatives to increase the productivity and profitability of their operations within the rice and shea nut value chains. It will ultimately deliver assistance to 12,500 rural women in the country.
In South Africa, the project delivered agricultural inputs to 2,753 women farmers in the first half of 2020. The inputs include drought-resistant seeds of various crops, organic manure, farming equipment, and training on climate smart agriculture.
In Uganda, 700 women have been equipped with the skills and technologies needed to run successful aquaculture operations. Over a quarter of a million high-quality fish fingerlings – of the Tilapia species – are being grown by the beneficiaries, using aquaculture technologies. The women have been supported through technical training, mentorship programmes, access to inputs including feeds, accommodation and business management skills.
“Women are the very backbone of rural economies and care of families and communities. Yet their contributions are under-valued and needs to be sufficiently acknowledged. Women’s economic empowerment is central to attaining gender equality and it is a prerequisite for inclusive and sustainable development. UN Women is committed to this expansion of this programme,” said Roberta Clarke, Senior Advisor, UN Women East and Southern Africa.