How Female Farmers Could Solve the Hunger Crisis
Women farmers are food security's secret weapon. A bit of support and education for female farmers can have huge ramifications. Agustina Reyes, who partners with the organization I work for, Plant With Purpose, is living proof of this. Before, Agustina struggled to raise her five boys on a small plot of land in rural Dominican Republic. But through access to sustainable agricultural training, she was equipped to maximize food production. Agustina now manages a thriving farm and has even opened a small grocery business on the side, running the store to help support her large family.
This is what shrinking the gender gap for female farmers looks like. Resources, whether they're small as seeds or broad as economic training, equip mothers and daughters and wives to use their own God-given talents and successfully lift themselves out of poverty.
Narrowing the gender gap requires advocating for our sisters who lack representation and supporting organizations that fight to give women the resources to feed their families and communities. Faith-based organizations like Plant With Purpose, Opportunity International, and Food for the Hungry work to provide support for subsistence farmers around the world, understanding that these families who rely on the land are particularly vulnerable to disparity and injustice.
The United Nation's declaration of 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) is another step in the right direction. IYFF means people are paying attention to disparity in an often-overlooked demographic and learning to celebrate the family farmers – male and female – who produce much of the world's food.
We in the U.S. tend to our gardens as a form of leisure. But for subsistence farmers around the world, the food they coax from the ground is life. Gender inequality in the developing world is more than inconvenient. For women farmers, it's a hunger issue, a justice issue, and an issue we're called to address when Jesus asks us to support "the least of these."
It's spring, and as I plant my garden boxes and wait for rain to cure our west coast drought, I'm praying God will set things right for our sisters around the world. And I'm praying we will be part of that solution – dedicated to providing resources for those who bend their backs daily over the earth. For women who farm the land, God's promise to come as rain must seem especially beautiful. The grace that falls from the sky sustains them, along with simple necessities like seeds, training, and good soil. In the end, these necessities sustain each one of us.
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