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Capacity building for women farmers in Mali

 

Women farmers are shown the process of parboiling, extending the life of their produce

 

 

 

Women are involved in all aspects of agriculture in Mali, but agroprocessing is dominated by women. Currently, women smallholders make up 30% of the labour force in rain-fed agriculture and 100% for irrigated vegetable gardens. Traditionally, women do almost all food processing, starting with threshing and ending with meal preparation. Women are also the main suppliers of processed products to the market. Most women work on their own or in groups and some are employed by small-scale enterprises. SAA Mali’s business model builds on strategic entry points for gender empowerment in agricultural development. Key interventions include:

 

1. Promoting the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices, as well as joint ventures with the private sector, and achievement of quality standards for their products. This approach draws on Women Assisted Demonstrations (WADs) of the farmers learning platforms with packages encompassing the use of seeds of improved crop varieties and fertilizer micro-dosage, integrated management of vegetable nutrients and diversification of crop varieties. SAA also supports cadres of extension workers to serve as a resource for farmers.

 

2. Supporting farmers and community groups, especially women support and solidarity groups, functional agricultural interest groups, and other agricultural development stakeholder groups. SAA has been promoting savings and loan associations for women smallholder producer groups. Efforts were also made to support women-led seed enterprises and agro-processing enterprises.

 

3. Developing more inclusive and efficient markets, based on a value chain approach. Improved postharvest handling technologies (rice parboiler, groundnut decorticators, and rice mills) were introduced successfully and are being used by women farmer groups. Techniques for processing remain mainly traditional, although more and more women are using millers to lighten the workload of the laborious dehusking and milling grains. Based on the current trends, it is expected that most of the market expansion for food products will come from women, as they improve their organizational skills and improve the quality of the processed products.