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Sierra Leone News: Women’s farmers discuss opportunities

As a way to create wealth and enable women to become financially independent, the United Nations Gender Entity for Women, over the weekend, engaged women’s farmers on opportunities to step up the agri-business sector.
Mariatu Jusu runs a juice business in Bo. Jusu explained how positive the agriculture business has been for her in supporting her children’s education as well as the family.
“Despite some gains made in the agriculture sector, there are substantial barriers that women face, in policy, legal and cultural realms; these have limited the growth of women in the agricultural sector.” Jusu says. “Women farmers need to grow beyond just the farm to eat situation. We need access to finance, to get the technical expertise to improve on our produce. We need the required market. If we can achieve all of these, we can be financially independent and self–empowered.”
Mariatu Kamara grows and sells vegetables in Freetown. Kamara says real progress on women’s financial independence and empowerment in term of agriculture depends on the contributions of policy makers to create the enabling for women’s farmers.
“Government support in terms of seedlings supply, access to finance, good road networks and other incentives should not be on a political basis but rather from an inclusive perspective. This will help a long way to make progress.” Kamara noted.
Kaday Zorokor, a farmer, also spoke on the need for the government to develop better environmental policies, which will influence agricultural outputs.
Deliberating on the role of women in the central economy, Jebbeh Foster, UN Women, Advisory on economic empowerment, said women represent 40% of the world’s workforce, hold 27% of global wealth, and are the owners of four in every 10 small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in emerging markets. Yet the global women’s market suffers from a $300 billion credit gap and women’s unequal access to resources and assets results in lost productivity.
SV/19/6/17
By Sylvia Villa
Tuesday June 20, 2017.

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