Integrating youth and women in CSA

In dealing with CSA adoption, as well as with agricultural technology adoption, there has been increasing recognition of the importance of focusing on the gender-heterogeneity behind the adoption choice itself. To understand gender dynamics in agriculture it is not sufficient to compare male to female farmers or male- to female-headed households. Instead, we need to understand the heterogeneous system of household behaviour embedded in the agricultural economy and to analyse the different situation of women in both male- and female-headed households in terms of their access and control of productive resources, services and employment opportunities.  Further, more, there is a growing realization that agriculture represents a huge potential for young entrepreneurs and, youth in general, as they are the farmers of tomorrow – and we hold the natural resources in trust for them.On the other hand, the role of women in agriculture and the importance of agriculture to women are no more subjects for debate.This sub-theme provides an opportunity for researchers and practitioners to share their experience on how extension can adequately embrace youth and women in the diffusion of climate-smart agricultural technologies.

In promoting the wide-scale adoption of climate smart agriculture (CSA)[1], as well as with adoption of other new agricultural technologies, there has been an increasing recognition of the importance of focusing on being gender-inclusive in the adoption choices. To understand the gender dynamics in each agricultural system, it is not sufficient to compare male to female farmers or male- to female-headed households. Instead, we need to understand the heterogeneous system of household behaviours embedded in each agricultural economy and to analyse the different situations of women in both male- and female-headed households in terms of their access and control of productive resources, services and employment opportunities. Furthermore, there is a growing realization that agriculture represents a huge potential for young entrepreneurs and youth in general, as they are the farmers of tomorrow – and we hold the natural resources in trust for them. On the other hand, the role of women in agriculture and the importance of agriculture to women are no more subjects for debate. This sub-theme provides an opportunity for researchers and practitioners to share their experiences on how extension systems can adequately embrace youth and women in the diffusion of climate-smart agricultural technologies.

The rationale is premised in the fact that, given the role of agriculture in meeting current and future economic demands in Africa, as well as to meet food nutrition and security needs, there is an urgent need to make CSA[2]attractive and accessible to the youth who form the majority of the population. Indeed, greater emphasis needs to be placed on building the capacity of women and youth, as they make up the majority of farmers in Africa. It is important to build their capacities so that the next generation of farmers and land managers can build on today’s successes. We need to promote research and innovation through encouraging demand-driven research, value chain addition, encouraging the promotion of drought tolerant crop varieties and emphasizing CSA technologies that are appropriate, gender sensitive and locally based. This also means exploring and introducing more business and market-oriented approaches to agriculture for youth engagement in the sector, as well as making the agricultural sector a more productive and attractive profession. This should also help retain innovative youth and women in rural areas, halting the migration of these important groups to urban areas.

Over the years, youth and women in Africa have proved their potential in promoting and implementing climate change adaptation projects. These innovations are largely driven by climate change impacts. However, the youth and women face various challenges that include lower technical capacity and education participation / attainment levels, higher rates of poverty and lack of access to financial resources. Within the context of agriculture, youth and women in Africa continue to battle challenges associated with the negative perception of agriculture as a “difficult” job, with poor returns and also lack of access to land and markets.

However, there are opportunities in terms of; Climate change adaptation and mitigation, and empowerment of youth and women, are key priority concerns for the African Union Commission and African development priorities. In fact the African Union Commission strongly encourages and supports sustainable development at the economic, environmental, social and political level which recognizes the importance of empowering the youth and women, allowing them to become agents of change in our societies, as enshrined in the AU Agenda 2063. Emerging issues affecting the youth and women in agriculture include mentorship, training, knowledge management and financing. Given the increased focus on youth and women, and the increasing dependence on agriculture for economic development and food security, this theme will create a platform to explore practical solutions which governments and institutions can apply to engage the youth and women actively in CSA[3].

 

[1]CSA = sustainably increasing productivity, resilience (adaptation), reducing/removing  greenhouse gases (mitigation),  while also  enhancing achievement of national food security and development goals

[2] CSA is not a single specific agricultural technology or practice that can be universally applied. It is an approach that requires site-specific assessments to identify suitable agricultural production technologies and practices

[3]See FAO (2013) Climate Smart Agriculture Sourcebook. Available from: http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3325e/i3325e.pdf