Women in Farming
Inclusivity is a topic of discussion around the world. The gender gap between men and women has existed for millennia and continues to be an issue even in the 21st Century. The farming industry is no different. Particularly in Africa, the farming industry, as with multiple other fields of work, there exist certain gender norms. African women are known to be substantially more involved in the process of agriculture as opposed to men, with the contribution of women totalling 60-80% . However, the percentage of women who actually own land stands at a staggering 10-20%. According to Edobong Akpabio, an executive member of African Farmers Stories, women in Africa play an even larger role than most believe. She has continuously expressed her belief that uplifting women will only prove to benefit the farming community.

For me, farming is not a gendered thing, it’s a humanity thing
Education vs. Farming
The gender gap between men and women, however, only stands as one barrier to inclusivity in the farming industry. Farmers themselves seem to hold a certain regard for themselves and are often perceived as the lower classes. Farming has always been viewed as an occupation for “peasants,” or for “poor people,” as mentioned by Edobong. Farmers continue to perceive themselves this way, which accounts for low self-esteem in their work. It has become common social opinion that only the lower classes should farm, and even within farming families, they work to make sure their children receive an education that will take them to fields of work outside of farming.

Farmers place a barrier within their own industry through their belief that they cannot progress past the stage they currently operate on. Due to this, farms are unable offer the same opportunities for employment as industries such as manufacturing or the oil and gas industry.

More often than not, educated individuals are steered away from farming, because even within the industry, farmers and outside parties are of the opinion that being educated and being in farming are entirely unrelated. The socialisation of farmers as a lower class in society, the use of the term “peasant” farmers to refer to “small holder farmers”, are all signs of the negative and derogatory view of farmers. This creates a lack of respect for farmers in these countries, where they are then disregarded or considered unimportant during developmental and government policy decisions.

The lack of education and the perception of farming as a peasant trade is what is holding the African agricultural system back from expanding its potential in the economy
Agricultural Revolution
Farmers continue to have this depreciated image of themselves in the industry as uneducated, poor farmers. However, there are some that understand the value of education in revolutionizing agriculture through the use of technology such as artificial intelligence and the use of drones to monitor problems or dry areas, and other issues that may arise in farming. Professor Schmidt Chintu, the CEO of Cyber Academy Zambia, describes the necessity for this agricultural revolution “to happen alongside the development of farmers, customers, and the food chain system to ensure mutual benefits in each stage of the supply stage system.”

This encompasses the transition of small-scale farmers into “smart farmers.” These ‘smart farmers’ can multipurpose their work to diversify product ranges, understand nitrogen cycles and can even move to more organic farming practices. Advanced technology is not a required prerequisite for a farmer to convert to ‘smart farming’, but an education in agriculture proves to advance the farming industry and help farmers become more sustainable.

Perception of Inclusiveness
“Inclusiveness is a socioeconomic concept. It touches on the economic livelihood of a system,” says Dr. Ikechi Agbugba. African farmers have not appropriately included themselves in important topics of discussion such as increasing food security and alleviating poverty. Farmers play an important role in the production of food, they are a staple of the economy of any nation.

The agricultural sector is a major contributing factor in the economy of any nation and can play a larger role in job creation and providing raw materials to industry. The lack of education and the perception of farming as a peasant trade is what is holding the African agricultural system back from expanding its potential in the economy.

Technology is the key to bring efficiency and inclusiveness into the industry. The youth are a key part of bringing technology and new knowledge into the industry. A system needs to be put into place to emphasize the importance of the youth, education, and inclusiveness in driving the agricultural sector in Africa. Take the example of Ethiopia, Kenya, and even developed nations such as the Netherlands. How can we maintain inclusiveness once it has been achieved?

Host Nancy Iloh-Nnaji from Moneyline with Nancy concluded this second session of the G.A.P.P.A.P Webinars with her summary of the solutions suggested to tackle the issues discussed
Possible Solutions
Discussing these issues is one thing, putting them into action is another thing entirely. Abena Appiah-Ofori from the Public Policy in Africa Initiative comes forward on this, specifically on the lack of involvement of youth in farming, with her suggestion of government implemented education programs to explore farming techniques. This would allow the youth within these farming communities to implement more sustainable practices as opposed to outsider third parties that may not have farmers best interests at heart. These issues will continue to persist, however with the appropriate policies implemented through “the African Way,” major change can be incorporated into the farming industry and promoting inclusiveness and sustainability.

Host Nancy Iloh-Nnaji from Moneyline with Nancy concluded this second session of the G.A.P.P.A.P Webinars with her summary of the solutions suggested to tackle the issues discussed. One such solution was discussing how to make agriculture sexy and how to elevate the farmer in a political and more engaging capacity in order to allow more youths to become interested and involved in agriculture. The shifting of the view of farmers versus how they operate and the public perception of farming, essentially asking the question, “What is a farmer?”

The creation of equal access for farmers in terms of banking and availability of resources are just one of the multitude of solutions suggested by this panel of G.A.P.P.A.P speakers. Others included capacity building, smart agriculture, the provision of subsidies, the expansion of economic opportunities, media participation to change the narrative towards farmers, the creation of a farmer’s bank after the model of the original cooperative Rabobank in the Netherlands, a farmer's political party, the role of government institutions in farming public policy, monetizing data, changing in banking model to accommodate farmers, and encouraging the youth to be more involved.