Thousands of female farmers in Tanzania, Malawi and Uganda could escape a life of poverty if better policies were adopted to bridge a yawning gap in agricultural productivity between women and men, according to a World Bank and United Nations report. The study by the World Bank and UN Women measured the economic costs of female farmers in the three east African countries having less access to land, labour, fertiliser, crop choice and machinery that made them less productive. Previous studies have found women farmers in Africa produce between 13 percent and 25 percent less than male farmers.
"I'm very efficient when it comes to farming but since I don't have access to the land I'd need for irrigation, I often produce less as a result and the whole family suffers," said Salima Nyantole, a female farmer from Morogoro in southern Tanzania. In Tanzania, women farmers cultivate about 0.6 hectares of land on average while male farmers cultivate more than 1 hectare. Commenting on the report, Judith Kizenga, deputy director in Tanzania's ministry for Community Development Gender and children, said the government was working on a number of programmes to better balance gender equality in agriculture. "We are trying our very best to ensure that women are empowered so that they can make a meaningful contribution to the economy,"