The role of women in agriculture

The role of a woman is crucial in the society. Her participation in agriculture cannot be ignored either.

Women in a long time have always been involved in Agriculture. World Bank estimates that women make up between 42% and 65% of the agricultural labour force in the world (World Bank, 2014). Similarly, in many parts of the world today, including Kenya.

Naela women group, Emali

Women work in agriculture voluntarily as farmers on family farms and as paid labourers in other farms and agricultural enterprises. They also play a critical role in both crop and livestock production at subsistence and commercial levels. Women produce food and cash crops and manage mixed agricultural operations often involving crops, livestock and fish farming.

Women play a very significant role in agricultural production in Kenya. However, they are accorded little attention. The lack of inadequate information on the level of women participation in agricultural production has helped to underestimate their importance in agricultural production and hence led to their neglect in sector development.

A woman in Njoro transplanting crops in a newly installed greenhouse

Traditionally the women would till land so that she could feed her family. In case she had extra produce she would sell and make some income. The role in women in agriculture has grown, it is not the basic farming to feed her family unit but also to feed the community at large.

Now things have changed. Women are now informed about agricultural measures to take such as installation of greenhouses and drip systems so that they could make maximum yields and supply the produce to the local markets, supermarkets, schools and restaurants around them. Some of these women have even sought to make produce that fits the export market.

Governor John Lonyangapuo visit to a greenhouse run by Ewan Kiror group in West Pokot

Illuminum Greenhouses has been privileged to work with 3 women groups that have taken up greenhouse farming and with our agronomic support they have been able to grow crops and sell to make profits.

The three groups include

  1. The Ewan Kiror women group in West Pokot. Through funding from sponsors in America, they were able to install an 8M X 30M metallic greenhouse unit. They have been growing tomatoes but recently after the inception of COVID-19 they were able to change to capsicum for more profits. Through our agronomic support they have been able to ensure they get successful harvests.
  2. Naela Women group in Emali. It has 14 members. The women in this group come from the maasai pastoralist community and agricultural farming has not been taken up. Through the support of a sponsor Andrea Stykette, they were able to install a greenhouse and have been farming tomatoes. They are now able to get profits from the tomato farming and these proceeds go to supporting their families.
  3. Sauti ya wanawake in Taita Taveta. The group is made up of 21 members who started off as a self-help group but with the support of Action Aid, they were able to install a greenhouse and actively participate in food production for profits.

The resilience in these women groups is admirable. As much as they have been faced by challenges, they are able to quickly drop what is not working and follow advice given by our agronomist and do things that actually work. They have been able to grow high yielding crops such as capsicum that ensure that they have minimal cost of production and are able to fetch good profits

Through the efforts of women in agriculture, the younger generation especially children are able to appreciate agricultural practices and adopt them and this forms a sustainable solution in food production.

Harvesting time by Naela women group in Emali

Through the effort of women in agriculture, lives have been improved. They are now able to make extra income that supports their families and educate their children.

Agriculture is crucial in all societies since it is the basis of food production. When women appreciate agriculture and take up roles, the society is improved and lives are changed.

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