AgriKUA was born in 2017 during the Youth Ag Summit in Brussels, to connect and empower women to bridge the gender gap in Agriculture value chains by bridging the information gap through an innovative platform model. Our goal is to empower young women to become agricultural leaders, role models and agents of change for women farmers and value chain actors.
Many of the problems that are facing the female farmers and women in the agricultural value chain in general are often rooted in the gender norms and roles there exists with in the given community. This can be expectations, education, access to services, land and resource heredity etc (Doss, 2018). Studies have also pointed out that a lot of the work many rural women do is taking care of children, fetching water and cooking. Activities that takes away time to do actual farm work (FAO, 2011; Doss, 2018). Many constraints and limitations also exist for women when it comes to marketing agricultural products and generating income on agribusiness ventures, such as processing and value addition (UN Women, 2015; Sophia Huyer, 2016). This is mainly due to the gender gap in technology application and traditional gender norms. For example cash crops is traditionally taken care of by men.
The fact that women are underrepresented in the higher level of the food and agricultural sector is part of the gender inequality aspect as well.
For rural transformation to be inclusive, policies and investments must help smallholders, especially women, to overcome market barriers. Rural women should have easier access and control over productive resources and assets, as well as involvement in decision-making processes. Information on good agricultural practices, markets, access to productive assets and including land and financing, while available, is not easily accessible to rural women, especially in Sub Saharan Africa. In fact the FAO estimates that if rural women had the same access to agricultural resources as men, yields could increase by 20–30% and the total number of hungry people in the world would be reduced by up to 150 million and there could be significant improvements in nutrition security (FAO, 2011).
With Seed funding from BAYER Crops Science, through 4-H Foundation in Kenya, the AgriKUA project was officially launched in February 2018, to run a pilot in Kenya. University students studying Agriculture, Food Systems, Natural Resource Management and Agribusness (AgriKUA Ambassadors), are trained and commissioned to participate in an assessment of gender gaps in local value-chains, through County Agricultural Sector Development Support Programmes (ASDSPs). After training, the Ambassadors return to their universities to design information packages customized for the local women farmers and value chain actors which is uploaded to the AgriKUA platform. The platform also provides opportunities for linkages, thematic areas for research, mentorship and employment opportunities for girls and women in the Food and Agricultural sector.
AgriKUA is currently under incubation with 4-H Kenya as the team gains the requisite experience in organisation development and programme management. One of the key challenges is the lack of capital to facilitate at least two members of the team who are willing to work full time on the project, in order to fast track the process towards launching AgriKUA’s as an independent legal entity by 2020.