Closing gender gap could boost world food supply: FAO

A new report by the Food & Agriculture Organization says one of the best ways to boost agricultural productivity worldwide would be to remove the barriers women farmers face that their male counterparts do not.

March 7, 2011

"The FAO's report on women and agriculture provides valuable hard data and analysis on the critical role women play in agriculture, in the face of inequality and discrimination," said Oxfam's Senior Gender Analyst Ines Smith. 

"Women produce the majority of the world's food world but rarely have access to the support or resources they need to satisfy their needs and those of their families," she added. "As the world faces growing concerns about food availability and price volatility, it is crucial that women are no longer the silent partners in feeding the world, but recognized and supported so that they become part of the solution."

While women make up 43 per cent of the world's farmers, only about 10 to 20 per cent own the land they farm, the report found. Without land for collateral, it is harder for them to get credit to buy better seeds and fertilizers.

Closing the gender gap could increase agricultural output in the developing world by as much as four per cent, the report found, which in turn could reduce the number of undernourished people by as much as 17 per cent.