Dr Julius Gatune, Senior Researcher and Policy Advisor, Africa Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET), has advised that Agricultural machines should be made women friendly so as to attract more women in the sector
He explained that most Agricultural implements and equipment were manned by their male counterparts and the only jobs left for them to do were the menial jobs.
Dr Gatune was speaking at an Agricultural transformational forum organised jointly by ACET and Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) at the University of Ghana in Accra on Wednesday. The Senior Researcher was speaking at the launch of the ACET African Transformation Report (ATR) -2017 on agriculture economic transformation in Africa, including Ghana’s.
He said the few women who were in the Agriculture sector had limited job opportunities in the operation of most of the farm machines and were only restricted to the most difficult work, including weeding and planting.
More women, Dr Gatune suggested should be encouraged into the area by giving them the technical know-how in operating farm machines to help increase productivity. He said not only should they be trained in machine operations, but also given knowledge to become extension officers as in some parts of African, it is forbidden for male extension officers to interact with females.
He revealed that annually, $68 billion was used by the Africa continent to import food most of which he said could be produced in Africa. “Achieving gender balance in farming is having access to land, access to cheap technologies and inputs, access to digital access, micro-finance and basic savings and loans, more women as extension officers and more innovative training programmes for them,” he added.
He said Africa had closed to 60 percent of the world’s uncultivated arable lands, round sunshine for long growing seasons, expanding markets for foods and the youthful population. Dr Gatune gave its vision as creating within a generation a modern, competitive and environmentally sustainable agricultural sector that ensures food security, supports a middle class lifestyle for a growing number of farmers and power Africa’s economic transformation.
Agricultural transformation included two processes; modernising farming by boosting productivity and running farms as modern business as well as strengthening the links between farms and other economic sectors and in mutually beneficial process whereby farm output supports manufacturing (through agro-processing) and other sectors support farming by modern manufactured inputs and services.
He however, said, there were challenges in accessing land and security of tenure, low farm productivity, farming not profitable, low access to inputs and output markets and finance, weak value chains; storage, transport and aging farming population.
“We have to also fill-in the missing middle-educated youth; farmer education, finance and input, warehouse receipt system and storage, export markets certification-cold storage at airport, processors, supermarkets and government food procurement, large contract farmers,” he said.
Land raising productivity on African farms modernising African agriculture will require reform of customary land tenure systems (secure land rights, ease access to land and protect the land rights of local communities from dispossession by large investors and promote principles of responsible agricultural investment).
He said the basis for agro industry and employment and beyond production, there was the need to improve storage and transport infrastructure, reduce postharvest losses and improve packaging and branding to compete with imports.
Boosting productivity on farms, the key part of the challenge of boosting productivity on African farms lies in making the green revolution package(improved seeds, improved fertilizers, farmer knowledge, irrigation, where required and the package more available and affordable) adequately accessible to African farmers and tailored to local conditions.
Agricultural powering industry requires close collaboration between ministers of agriculture, finance, trade and industry, export and investment promotion agencies.President for ACET, Dr K.Y. Amoako said, ACET was formed as a transformation agency to analyse, dialogue and provide advice for policy reforms.
The meeting, he said will develop policy platforms in five Countries; Ghana, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania to help push transformation agenda in ATR II. Four key priorities to be discussed by stakeholders are improving functions of markets, skills, land tenure and supporting processing, Dr Amoako stressed.