FOR local women farmers to fully thrive in their various agricultural endeavours, more needs to be done to give them access to lucrative markets, adequate funding, and proper training on techniques of modern farming.
These were some of the observations of Industrialization and Trade minister Lucia Iipumbu, who was the keynote speaker at the recent Women and Agriculture Summit held in the capital.
Held under the theme “Leveraging technology and innovation to unleash the potential of agriculture and value addition”, the summit deliberated on various ways of how to empower female farmers, provide valuable insights, and foster collaboration to address the challenges faced by women in agriculture.
Iipumbu said the time is now for female farmers to take their place at the table and come up with innovative ways on how the country can productively transform its agricultural sector, especially in the areas of funding and technology.
“We must recognise that women in agriculture face disparities in access to land, credit, and productive resources. This summit is an opportunity for us to advocate land rights for women and to promote financial inclusion, enabling them to invest in their farms and businesses. Through policy reforms and innovative financial mechanisms, we can level the playing field and unlock the potential of women farmers,” she said.
Through the ministry’s ‘Buy Local, Grow Namibia’ campaign, which has a special target for women-led agriculture businesses, Iipumbu emphasised the government remains fully committed to ensuring that farmers’ products meet the market standards for shelving.
“In addition to these structural changes, we must invest in education and capacity-building programmes that empower women with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in agriculture. Training in sustainable farming practices, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship can go a long way in equipping women to manage their farms and businesses effectively,” said Iipumbu.
The minister said for too long women have championed farming activities, especially in the substance farming sector.
“The time is therefore now for us all to have space at the table and share the cake with our male counterparts in terms of participation in the commercialised agricultural activities to derive income,” she said. The summit also provided opportunities through talks and workshops to the various participants to share best practices, build relationships, and develop initiatives to support and promote female farmers, while providing invaluable benefits to each participant.
Despite these challenges, Iipumbu said agriculture remains the backbone of Namibia and female farmers have a role to play in providing food security, livelihoods, and economic stability.
“Women, specifically, are the unsung heroes of the agricultural sector. They constitute a significant portion of the agricultural workforce, contributing significantly to crop cultivation, livestock management, and agribusiness. However, despite their indispensable role, women often face numerous challenges and barriers that hinder their full participation and potential to excel in this sector,” said Iipumbu.