WGEC hosts first Women in Agriculture Conference

In many parts of the world, women make up a significant portion of the agricultural workforce. However, they often have limited access to resources such as land, credit, and technology, which can hinder their ability to improve their productivity and profitability.

Deputy Programme Manager for CARICOM’s Agriculture unit, Milagro Matus

The concept of women in agriculture refers to the important role that women play in the agriculture sector, including as farmers, farm workers, entrepreneurs, and decision-makers. Women have always been involved in agriculture, but their contributions have often been undervalued and overlooked.

Acknowledging this issue, the Women and Gender Equality Commission (WGEC) hosted its first women in agriculture conference at the Regency Suites, in celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month.

The aim of the event is to encourage more participation of women in agriculture and to provide assistance in overcoming their challenges, including access to Technology and Innovation, opportunities, financing, value creation and accessing technical assistance.

There is growing recognition of the need to promote gender equality in agriculture, both as a matter of social justice and to achieve sustainable development goals. This includes efforts to ensure that women have equal access to resources and opportunities, as well as to support women’s leadership and entrepreneurship in the agricultural sector.

Chairperson of WGEC, Indranie Chandarpaul

Chairperson of WGEC, Indranie Chandarpaul noted that Guyana is at the cusp of a very exciting journey to development, amidst it all, agriculture is the country’s backbone and women play an important role in its expansion.

“As we look around the world and we understand the shocks that are taking place… the cost of living has gone up…And putting food on the table can be challenging for many families… We believe the way to deal with this issue is to plant our kitchen garden and do things for ourselves but we are now moving beyond that to see how women can be involved in economic development and to get involved in entrepreneurial development, not only to feed your families but to create a business to provide to make money out of it,” the chairperson emphasised.

Women in Agriculture Conference

She also explained that with the advancement of technology, Guyana is able to facilitate the growth of spices, fruits and vegetables that were once deemed impossible.

“Years ago, I never saw broccoli or cauliflower growing in Guyana… I was amazed to learn that we are even growing grapes… these are just some examples to show the role of innovation and technology in the way you are doing your farming,” she explained.

Deputy Programme Manager for CARICOM’s Agriculture Unit, Milagro Matus highlighted the importance of the roles women and youth play in ensuring the region’s goal of reducing the food import bill  by 25 per cent by 2025 is met.

“As it relates to food and nutrition security in the region, with the exception of Belize and Guyana, all other CARICOM countries are net food importers… from seed, pesticides, all inputs into production, one of our biggest challenges. Seven of the countries [of CARICOM] import more than 80 per cent of the food they consume. Imagine that… so, women and youth need to play their part in agricultural development,” Matus said.

Many farmers at the event were able to access resources to help with overcoming their challenges, including financing and training to develop business plans.