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With Technology and Training, Women Farmers Thrive
Many women farmers struggle to access and control the means of production (land, mechanization and inputs like seed and fertilizer), as well as the sale and profits from what they produce.
In recognition of International Women’s Day, the agriculture community is highlighting the need to #FillTheGap so that women have equal access to the inputs, technologies and practices that can make their farms more productive and improve the lives of their families.
Two Harvest 2050 blogs will feature profiles of women farmers who are thriving thanks to agricultural technology, training and access to markets. Their stories can be found in the 2017 Global Agricultural Productivity Report® (GAP Report®). The first story is below.
Kenya Dairy Drives Development – Ester’s Story
Ester lives in Kenya and is a successful dairy farmer with 15 head of cattle. She sends the milk produced to her local women’s dairy co-operative where it is tested for safety and quality, chilled and sold to commercial buyers.
Ester has invested in a better cowshed with dedicated milking and feeding stations. She upgraded to high-grade dairy cattle that are healthier and produce more milk.
Membership in the co-operative is critical to Ester’s success. She receives training in animal health practices, business management and product handling.
Through the co-operative, Ester obtains veterinary and insemination services, loans to improve her farm and purchase equipment and livestock index insurance which reduces the risk to her income from cattle accident, death and disease.
The fees for the co-operative services and financing are deducted from the payments she receives for her milk. But Ester’s co-operative often waits until the milk is sold before paying its farmers. As a result, she is sometime short of cash.
To improve her cash flow and reduce costs, Ester grows two hectares of brachiaria grass as the principal source of feed for her cattle and to sell in the rapidly growing fodder market.
Yet for all her success, Ester knows she is vulnerable, particularly to illness and old age.
Ester fears that someday she will be unable to manage the farm, even with the help of her employees, and she will have to sell some of her cows or land to survive.
Milk production is labor-intensive. In addition to the daily feeding and milking of the cows, dairy farmers must constantly manage manure, monitor the health of the animals and maintain milk safety and quality standards established by the co-operative.
Ester finds it difficult to retain skilled workers and her employees require constant supervision.
To reduce labor time and costs, Ester plans to purchase milking equipment and milk testing technologies. She hopes this will reduce the labor burden and attract reliable employees interested in working with the new technologies.
Ester is thriving thanks to affordable access to agricultural technologies, knowledge and financing. Yet, more can be done to ensure that she has the resources she needs to reach her full potential and protect her gains in the future.
Tomorrow, the Harvest 2050 blog will feature the story of Gita, a tomato farmer from India.