Rural Women Farmers’ Grassroots Networks in Africa
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African women at the grassroots are familiar with the environment in which they farm, keep cattle, or engage in fish mongering. Constituting a sizeable majority in farming, they have been introduced to the use of agrochemicals, breeding, crop production, farm machinery, processing, and seed supply and have received assistance in marketing and retail sales. Despite all the problems that the development world has been aware of since the 1980s, the women farmers have been innovative in their work strategies. They have proposed enhancing the value of their raw farm products through access to transportation and storage facilities, and some in West Africa have succeeded in attracting help in that regard. Most practice networking and revolving credit funding, and many in Eastern Africa have gained from enhanced use of revolving funds. Citing three examples that illustrate these successes, this chapter argues that women farmers’ innovative initiatives are indicative of their openness to adopt strategies and ways of sustaining their work. It underlines that the grassroots women farmers’ cooperative and credit association meetings can be used as platforms for linking them to the state and its laws. Like their work strategies, these provide compelling models, for instance, in raising their awareness of legal solutions to the statutory and customary laws that deprive women farmers of lands and other amenities.
KeywordsInnovative strategies Rural women’s networks Credit association Revolving funds Empowerment and awareness Rural women’s strategies Women’s legal rights Women’s land rights
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