State of Food and Agriculture: 2010

This week, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released its 2010-2011 State of Food and Agriculture Report.  I had the opportunity to attend the release of this report in New York at the United Nations, hosted by His Excellency Ambassador Abulkalam Abdul Momen, the Permanent Representative of Bangladesh who is Vice President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council.  Amb. Momem with representatives from FAO, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and UN Women explored the latest and most comprehensive report Women in Agriculture: Closing the gender gap for development

Key messages from this report include:

  • Women comprise, on average, 43 percent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries.
  • Women in agriculture and rural areas have less access than men to productive resources and opportunities.
  • Female farmers produce less than male farmers, but not because they are less-efficient farmers.
  • Closing the gender gap in agriculture would generate significant gains for the agriculture sector and for society.
  • Production gains of this magnitude could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12-17 percent.
  • These potential productivity gains are just the first round of social benefits that would come from closing the gender gap.
  • Policy interventions can help close the gender gap in agriculture and rural labour markets.

The report comes in a time of volatility in global food prices and global economic development. One panelist suggested that increasing the production level of women farmers to that of their male counterparts would result in a decrease in the number of undernourished people by 100 to 150 million.  The panelists noted that the effects of reducing the gender inequity tie into action steps towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, such as the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment, and reducing childhood mortality.

The report comes as organizers for the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) begin preparations for next year’s Commission with the focus on rural women. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), through the Presbyterian Hunger Program provides educational, mission and action programs for Presbyterians passionate about living out God's call to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly. 

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