The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has partnered with regional body Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to implement policies to ensure gender mainstreaming in the agricultural industry, Haile Gabriel, FAO Africa Regional Program Leader and Ghana Country Representative, told Xinhua in an interview.
At the end of a two-day seminar on gender responsive regional and national agriculture investment on Thursday, Gabriel said the FAO and ECOWAS joint assessment undertaken in the sub-region pointed to the fact that the inequalities were getting bigger.
“As the countries in the ECOWAS region and ECOWAS as regional economic community are developing their national and regional agriculture investment plans respectively, it will be important to explicitly factor in issues of gender equality and women empowerment,” he said.
The FAO, he said, has been working with these countries as well as the ECOWAS Commission to support their efforts as they improve the situation for women in terms of access to resources and technical expertise.
The FAO official stressed the need to ensure that women have access to new and modernized agriculture.
Gabriel urged that the entire value chain must be developed and modernized so women could benefit from employment opportunities and better incomes.
“And in this respect, I am referring to agro-business, agro-industry and the logistics sector where women already are doing it but in a very rudimentary scale,” said Gabriel.
“The best way for women to improve their situation in agriculture in rural areas is to act in groups — to organize themselves as groups,” he added.
Fatimata Dia Sow, Agriculture, Economics and Gender Commissioner at the ECOWAS Commission, said ECOWAS would work with member states and other stakeholders including civil society organizations to support gender responsive programs.
“We never had in the past our Regional Program for Investment in Agriculture or our national programs in our member states sensitive in gender. We have tried our best but the reality is that women face many concerns like access to resources, access to capital; access to technologies; access to better prices, and women also do not benefit fully from the financing benefit of the agriculture sector,” she said. Enditem