U.S. Advisor Robert Marks today stressed that empowering female farmers is vital for agricultural development and food security.
In his remarks to the UN General Assembly’s Second Committee (Economic & Financial Affairs), Mr. Marks said empowering female farmers is very close to the heart of Obama Administration.
“If we are to meet the food security needs of a quickly-growing global population, then we cannot afford to marginalize the productive capacity of female farmers. In the developing world, women make-up a significant percentage of the small-holder farmers, yet agricultural technologies, markets, land rights, and customs often do not enable them to reach their full productive potential.” -Mr. Marks
According to Mr. Marks, the FAO estimates that equalizing access to productive resources between female and male farmers could increase agricultural output in developing countries by as much as 2.5 to 4 percent, which could in turn reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12 to 17 percent.
“To this end, we hosted an event last month entitled, “Women and Agriculture: A Conversation on Improving Global Food Security,” to demonstrate why the United States has placed female farmers at the forefront of our Feed the Future program.” -Mr. Marks
He cited that Secretary Clinton announced allocating $5 million for a new Feed the Future gender program that will: fund innovative activities that promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in agriculture and land use, expand the knowledge base, and promote greater gender integration into agricultural development and food security programming.
“Given the crucial but undervalued role that women play in agricultural production in the developing world, the gender component will continue to be a central concern as we implement our food security strategy.” -Mr. Marks
He stressed that the United States is very optimistic that they can all successfully pull together to invest in the research critical to the policy, governance, and societal changes that they must make in order to turn women farmers into agents for change in the fight against hunger and poverty.
“Their countries’ futures depend on these women participating fully in the fight. As the saying goes, “If you teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime.” Perhaps the corollary is, “If you teach a woman to fish, she’ll feed her whole family for a lifetime.” -Mr. Marks