Vicki Wilde says women are key to agriculture in Africa

Many parts of Africa struggle with food insecurity. Wilde believes that putting African women in agricultural research positions can help.

Vicki Wilde: The challenges of African women are more extreme, but they are challenges that women face almost everywhere.

That’s Vicki Wilde, director of CGIAR’s Gender & Diversity program in Nairobi, Kenya. CGIAR is an international group of agricultural research institutions. Wilde believes that putting African women in agricultural research positions is key to helping a region struggling with food insecurity.

Vicki Wilde: The few studies that have been done show that when we do concentrate on women, show very rapid increases in production.

In the past, aid agencies focused on training men. But Wilde said women are responsible for the production of 60 to 80 percent of food crops. Many of the women in Wilde’s program grew up farming in rural areas, then earned doctorates in plant sciences.

Vicki Wilde: They’re combining their knowledge from experiences on the farm at home with their education. And they’re coming up with different kinds of innovation and solutions that are truly more relevant.

Female agricultural scientists tend to focus on indigenous crops. They breed new varieties of vegetables resistant to drought and disease. They also mentor other women to learn better farming techniques, and to become scientists themselves.

Vicki Wilde: Agencies worldwide and on the ground are recognizing that if you educate a woman you can improve the whole family, and the whole community. Little by little we’re realizing the same is true in agriculture, especially in Africa.

Our thanks to:
Vicki Wilde
Director
CGIAR Gender & Diversity Program
Nairobi, Kenya

Lindsay Patterson