Why female farmers need support

May 27, 2012

To end global hunger, female farmers must be the focus of the Group of Eight and African leaders’ New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which targets investments to small farmers [“Aid for Africa,” editorial, May 18]:

Every day, more women face hunger than men. Women grow the majority of the food in developing countries, but most produce at subsistence levels. Unequal access to resources, education and income means that female farmers produce less than men. Is it any wonder there’s a global food crisis?

Investments in women’s knowledge and access to resources lead to increased food production and income opportunities for women. I have seen in my own work how training impoverished women in sustainable farming practices improves their lives, families and communities.

If female farmers could access the same resources as men, women’s food production would grow nearly 30 percent in developing countries. Up to 150 million people could escape hunger. The New Alliance must direct agricultural investments toward women. A world without hunger is possible, but only if we don’t leave women — the majority of the world’s farmers — behind.

Karen Sherman, Washington

The writer is executive director of global programs at Women for Women International.

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